Wild Joy and Deep Peace

Henderson's Blue MouthThis morning, I read a blog post by Chris Guillebeau about moments while traveling when he felt perfectly content.

I know what he means, and you probably do too.

Traveling gives me that feeling of being suspended within myself and yet also being very much in the moment. I finally breach that territory on the other side of neediness and can cease that frenetic search for peace, wholeness, or intimacy. Have you ever looked around the room and noticed all at once that most of the people whom you love the most are gathered in one place? If we are in a place to receive it, warm pleasure follows that realization, washing over us and giving us the freedom to be fully present. For where else would we want to be?

The five brief stories that Chris told carried a hint of that same feeling. With contentment comes a stillness, pleasantly heavy centeredness. Time slows, and heightened awareness enables us to drink in more of the minute details of our surroundings. I notice a few gray hairs in my friend’s beard. Birds chirp and twitter to one another outside. The warmth of my coffee bleeds through the mug and into my hands. Everything seems right with the world.

Sunday, March 20, marked the vernal equinox, which means that spring is here, at least for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Those heady, half-drunken moments of contentment come more often for me outdoors. After a long run on a Saturday morning, I walk for half a mile, and I am aware of the marvel that is locomotion. How strange to think that we can move and breathe! The breeze brushes cool fingers across my cheeks. The sweat dries and tightens the skin on my face.

Campfires invite long, reflective conversations.

Making a few last casts on a trout stream in the fading light when my parachute Adams or caddis is a tiny smudge of white in the inky current always stirs up a reverence for God, a joy at being alive, and a strangely reassuring glimpse into my own smallness. The world doesn’t rest on my shoulders. My only task is to appreciate these fleeting glimpses of the infinite breaking into the finite—like a red fox flashing across a road.

I inhale the fragrances of spring, and even the musky odor of Bradford Pear trees is a welcome change from the smells of cold and rain. Crocuses appear beside the road. Daffodils soon follow, then tulips, and finally, all the other flowers, I am filled with a sense of wellbeing. The salvation of the world, the health of my people, the quirks of my body, and the purification of my soul are in other, more capable hands.

After falling thirteen thousand feet over the Swiss Alps and landing safely on a small strip of grass, I gave my best friend a hug. We had both survived skydiving. Life was overflowing, and I felt giddy with the excess.

What gives you that feeling of wild joy and deep peace all at once?

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  1. […] I took a break from my most recent Worst Product Ever rant to write something more encouraging about moments of complete contentment. […]