By Dominick Jean
You've seen it a hundred times over. The smile that grows and threatens to overwhelm your face. The wrinkles that form around eyes as they twinkle with that burning light. The laughter that bubbles up from deep within and echoes unapologetically throughout the room.
These are visible signs of something far more mysterious.
Something mysterious called joy.
I want to be clear though before continuing. I'm not referring to the laughter and smiles that come from mockery, dirty jokes and other such things. I'm talking about the deep-seated realization making those things unnecessary.
The realization that you and I have a "reason for our hope," that life is truly good.
This joy doesn't make our suffering less, our heartbreak cease to exist or anything like that. I'd be lying if I said it did and you'd know that.
But joy illuminates our path, it helps us to dance through the thorns of this life a little more elegantly, to sing a little louder and to shine a tiny bit brighter.
St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (God bless am I right?) said that joy is strength and not only that but that joy is "a net by which you can catch souls."
What is more attractive, more beautiful, more gosh darn magnificent then someone truly joyful?
Not a whole lot, in my opinion.
Men and women truly come alive when they are filled with joy, their beauty shines like a beacon for us all about the possibilities.
I've seen this joy in children, cancer patients, the blind, married couples, priests and others. It breaks my heart open, in the best possible way, to see this joy in those around me. They help us recognize joy ourselves and take a step towards the same realization.
Joy isn't some grandiose one-time only decision. Rather, it is an every day choice to look at the world, even with all its suffering and see 7 billion beautiful souls, including your own.
You're going to make mistakes. Sorrow and suffering will hit you. Someone will likely break your heart if they haven't already. Guess what?
In those cracks around your heart you'll feel this amazing thing trying to sneak inside. Your friends, family and lvoed ones will carry it into your brokenness.
It's called joy. Mirth. Laughter. Love.
Joy is our strength, accept it, embrace it and then spread it. I'm happy to say I'm prone to suffer joy and laughter often. Join me.
So we've all been given advice. Whether it was your mom reminding you for the tenth time to make sure you have your keys or the old folks at your church telling you what NOT to do in college, you've been given advice.
Same here. But I received the best and most simple advice awhile ago and it sticks with me.
It sticks with me through the days and nights. Through thick and thin. And most certainly it sticks with me at work or relaxing.
It's simple. Be bold, be brave, be raw and be real.
Be a saint.
Easy enough right? Or if you're me, not so much.
If you're anything like me (and I'm going to go out on a limb and say you are) you likely make mistakes. Instead of be bold, you're cowardly. Instead of being brave and venturing into the world, you stay back and hide. Instead of being raw and real you conceal and obsfuscate, never giving yourself away.
In other words, you're never putting yourself at risk.
which is pretty much the only determining factor that every saint has in common.
There are big saints, thin saints, tall saints, small saints, fierce saints, meek saints and a thousand more kinds I can't even think of.
But everyone of them has one thing in common. Other than a love of God obviously. And that's the fact that they risked something.
They were real. They were brave and bold. And oh goodness were they raw.
Let me explain.
I'm not talking raw like your meat. That would be gross. I'm saying, these saints cut themselves open, to the bone, for the Lord and their brothers and sisters in Christ.
They didn't put just their heart on their sleeve. Hey put their soul out there and trusted in God.
They were brave and bold, giving up lives of comfort for the greatness that we are called to seek.
They were so real. They were real because they shone with something otherworldly. Something that transcends what we have here.
We look around us and often we wonder about "fake people, fake news and fake stuff."
And we're obsessed with that stuff. I am at least. I mean fake news reports said there were giant pythons in Lake Monroe (there are none by the way).
But there's more. And we want more. Maybe we can't put a name on it yet. Maybe we can't even say it's God we're seeking yet. But by taking that advice I've talked about we can start on the right path.
So be bold, be brave, be raw and most certainly be real.