The ancient skill of alchemy is alive and well, and you are an alchemist. Everywhere around you are the materials for your joy.
Some – a brightly coloured flower, a smiling baby, a graceful tree, a playful puppy, a beautiful piece of music, a shaft of sunlight glinting on the water – present themselves without any effort on your part beyond you simply noticing them.
Others may require you to seek them out deliberately; cultivating the habit of looking for beautiful or meaningful objects and situations will multiply them.
Soon your days are full of joyful and peaceful moments, so that even though there may be some painful or disturbing moments too, you will be able to restore your equilibrium and equanimity again before very long, and you will see the negative experiences as what they are, passing clouds.
“I am so glad the sky is blue
And that the grass is green
With so many other lovely things
All sandwiched in between.”
Mary enjoyed going to the little Sunday school every Sunday while her mummy and daddy stayed on in the big church for the sermon. She thought “Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between” was very clever, because it hid a secret important idea inside a small word and used its letters to help you remember it. She knew what “joy” meant. It was sort of tingly and friendly and made her smile and want to jump about. Singing often made her feel joy. One of her favourites was “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam”. It had a lovely tune. She knew about sunbeams. She had sat in them on sunny days, or stretched out her hand so that a sunbeam would fall on it. Sunbeams were warm and friendly. She sometimes thought about what she should do to be a sunbeam, if that was something Jesus wanted her to do. She wanted to do something for him. He sounded so nice, always helping people or explaining things to them, giving them food and making them better when they were ill. She wanted to be like him when she grew up. She would be warm and friendly like a sunbeam, help people and look after them. She smiled at that thought and, yes, it did make her feel joy. She understood! She decided she would listen carefully every Sunday to what the teacher was saying and see what other important ideas she could learn.
One Sunday morning, after singing and a prayer, the teacher started to talk about God. Mary found the things she was saying very interesting and tried to understand what she was hearing, but she wasn’t quite clear about all of it. When the teacher finished her talk she asked the class if anyone had any questions. Mary put her hand up.
“Is that right, that God is everywhere in the whole world?”
“Yes, that’s right.
“So is He even here, in this room?”
Mary picked up the empty jam jar that was sitting on the table in front of her. They were going to do some painting later.
“And is He even in this jam jar?”
“Yes, Mary. That’s right.”
Mary clapped her hand over the top of the jar, sealing it tight.
“Got Him!” she exclaimed with a big smile.