Learning Joy

Julian makes the point that “love” and “joy” always accompany one another, because the love which is in God and is God, is ecstatic love. This ecstasy is what we call “joy.” Every soul really longs for the joy for which we were created, which is in effect a longing for God who IS joy and the source of all joy. The soul cannot discover true joy in anything less than God:

“And therefore we can ask of our Lover with reverence all that we wish, for our natural wish is to have God and the good wish of God is to have us. And we can never leave off wishing nor longing until we have Him in fullness of joy.”

We are meant to receive God’s divine joy here, in this life, to begin to live heaven. This happens as we learn to see God in all things, which Julian even calls “the fullness of joy”. We often experience this joy simply as a deep tranquility, such as when we choose to live in trust, beyond what we can see or reason.

Although the soul’s deepest desire, for which it was created, is to know the joy of God, this life is “mixed” as Julian also acknowledges. We so often find ourselves saddened by unhappy events or by our own failures. Unlike St Paul, we have grown into habits of letting our peace and contentment be tied to particularities, instead of to God who is unchanging. We have not yet learned how to see God in everything, especially in the cross.

This failure may tempt us to sadness or fear, but the solution is to confront these feelings in hope. To hope is to admit that we are incomplete, just as much as our knowledge. We are growing towards maturity; we are on a pilgrimage, the goal of which is divine joy and the fullness of our humanity.



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