Posted by: Donna Cunningham | April 25, 2009

The Audacity of Joy

©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

I have a terrible confession to make, and even though some of you will judge me harshly, I must come clean.   And that is that, despite all the scary things that are happening in our world, all the suffering that’s out there, and all the bad news we’re constantly bombarded with on television, I still have moments when I am filled with joy.  I know. It’s insensitive of me, probably politically incorrect, but what can I do?  Joy strikes when I least expect it. 

I blog in the early hours of the morning, and by the time I snuggle back in bed for a bit more sleep, there’s a bird singing outside my window. It’s dawn, and like birds since the dawn of time, he sings to greet the morning. Apparently, he’s not watching CNN.  And for that moment, my heart sings too. 

I watch our vibrant, handsome president bounce down the steps of Air Force One and sweep his wife and daughters into his arms. (“Honey, I’m home!”)

 I share a light, tasty lunch with a pal on a two-for-one coupon, and we have a long, intimate talk.   

Writing classes are my happiest thing.  I send out the announcement about my Writing Signatures teleseminar to a targeted list of 30 people who’ve expressed an interest in classes.  Within 15 minutes, five of them have signed up.

 Someone calls that I haven’t heard from in years. It’s like no time at all has passed, like we’ve never been a continent apart.  We’re just as we always were, immersed in that special and eternal knowingness of one another.

 There’s a particularly well-written episode of a favorite show, and the characters I love affirm their friendship, and I smile in remembrance for hours after.

 I walk to the mailbox, and the tiny, lantern-shaped blossoms on the madia bush smell like honey. I swear to you that the earth is happy too, despite it all.  It’s spring, for God’s sake!

 I check my blog stats for the day, and some little thing I wrote has caused a spike of mentions on blogs I never heard of before. (Thanks, folks!)

 Little things like those are all it takes to set me off.    It’s not that I believe anything is wrong with being happy, it’s just that when I dare to say so, people feel honor bound to give me a half hour lecture on why I’m living in a dreamworld. It’s just plain weird to feel guilty about being happy.  That’s why I’m getting it out in the open.  I don’t want to sneak around any more. 

How do I manage to be joyous from time to time?  One way is that when I’m shaken by the news and the waves of economic crisis, I sit in my meditation spot and look around me at all the things I love. And I begin to offer a prayer of gratitude, listing all the people and things I am blessed with. Before long, I am suffused with joy.  And the odd thing is that God seems to like it when we say thank you, because I am showered with the most amazing little gifts whenever I do it. 

 Something that lifts me up in especially troubled times is that I have a guide that I call Loving Kindness. He’s a tiny little old man who was the chief of an island off the east coast of Africa. It was abandoned a very long time ago when the tribe was wiped out by a plague.  He doesn’t have a whole lot to say, but the joy and love that he radiates when he comes to comfort me is a solace to my soul. 

 It’s always been in that corner of the living room where I mediate and do healing work that I connect with him, except on one occasion. I was watching television at the moment when the Obamas came out to announce his election, and Loving Kindness actually materialized at my side to participate in the celebration. The moment was so powerful that the doors to the 5th dimension opened. 

 There’s a meditation Loving Kindness leads me through when I’m deep in the morass of our times, stewing over the trouble our world is in.  He says, “Can you allow yourself to be happy right now?” 

 And I seek inside for the part that dares to be joyful, and with him there, I’m able to feel it for a time, suspending all other thoughts.  But gradually, I drift back into the Cosmic Stew, and once again, he asks, “Can you allow yourself to be happy right now?”   And I retrieve it again. And lose it again. And he asks again.  For as long as I can sit still for it.  It’s not easy being happy, you know?

 Loving Kindness can be there for you, too. He says it is okay for you to call on him.   Try it.  I don’t want to be the only one who feels bad about feeling good.


Art Credit: Photo by Karsten Sperling, found at  This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License.


  1. Bravo, Donna! That was well thought, well said, and well written. Thanks for sharing not only your insights but also your guide. :}

  2. Very soothing to read your thoughts–no stumbling–just drifting, as if on clouds. Namaste

  3. (smiling) There’s much to be joyful about, especially in the spring here in the Northern Hemisphere (and in Boston after a very long, difficult winter!). And it doesn’t cost a thing, nor does it contribute to the world’s problems (in fact, spreading some of that joy around can only help, in ways you’ll never know). Thanks for sharing your joy!

  4. You write from the bottom of my heart. I too feel the joy of life, the daily gifts which surround me. I too am told I live in another world. I guess I do. Or maybe they do, who knows for sure?
    My world is not of fear, we are so lucky and have so much, just look outside the window, hear the birds in the springtime buzz, and enjoy family and friends…and the most important, have trust.

  5. I love this post. I too feel joy and I like to think that all who do are tipping the balance on the negativity in the world. There is so much to be joyful about.

    Gratitude brings more to be grateful for.

    Thanks for adding to the Joy pool (and being willing to admit it!) 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: