Compiled by Brittany Callendar & Emily Ling
We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We’ve come to the point where it’s irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven’t yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don’t look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it.
One of the greatest weapons of all is laughter, a gift for fun, a sense of play which is sadly missing from the grownup world. When one of our children got isolated by a fit of sulks, my husband would say very seriously, “Look at me. Now, don’t laugh. Whatever you do, don’t laugh.” Nobody could manage to stay long-faced for very long, and communication was reestablished. When Hugh and I are out of sorts with each other, it is always laughter that breaks through the anger and withdrawal.
Paradox again: to take ourselves seriously enough to take ourselves lightly. If every hair of my head is counted, then in the very scheme of the cosmos I matter; I am created by a power who cares about the sparrow, and the rabbit in the snare, and the people on the crowded streets; who calls the stars by name. And you. And me. When I remember this it is as though pounds were lifted from me.
Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet
So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter. Gordon W. Allport
Secret fears, the supernatural,
Thank God for this new laughter
Thank God the joke’s on me
‘Cause I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears…
Over the Rhine, “Born”
Now what is the missing chapter in this case, the chapter which Christians are offering? The story of the Incarnation – the story of the descent and resurrection... One has the picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green and warm and sunlit water into the pitch black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out into the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get. This thing is human nature; but associated with it, all nature, the new universe… If I accept this supposed missing chapter, the Incarnation, I find it begins to illuminate the whole of the rest of the manuscript. It lights up nature’s pattern… That is why I think the Grand Miracle is the missing chapter in this novel, the chapter on which the whole plot turns; that is why I believe that God really has dived down into the bottom of creation, and has come up bringing the whole redeemed nature on His shoulders. The miracles that have already happened are, of course, as Scripture so often says, the first fruits of that cosmic summer which is presently coming on… To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that... It remains with us to follow or not, to die in the winter, or to go on into that spring and that summer. C.S. Lewis
A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content
Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you dare to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles. The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel,
For that rare, random descent.
But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. Luke 2:10
The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own false self, and enter by love into union with the Life who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls. In His love we possess all things and enjoy fruition of them, finding Him in them all. And thus as we go about the world, everything we meet and everything we see and hear and touch, far from defiling, purifies us and plants in us something more of contemplation and of heaven. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?
If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!
Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.
Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.
Madeleine L’Engle, “The Winter is cold, is cold”
A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. G.K. Chesterton
[Senior demon named Screwtape writing about God to junior tempter Wormwood]:
He’s a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the seashore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are ‘pleasures for evermore’… He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least – sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages.
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
He had been wont to despise emotions: girls were emotional, girls were weak, emotions–tears– were weakness. But this morning he was thinking that being a great brain in a tower, nothing but brain, wouldn’t be much fun. No excitement, no dog to love, no joy in the blue sky– no feelings at all. But feelings– feelings are emotions! He was suddenly overwhelmed by the revelation that what makes life worth living is, precisely, the emotions. But then– this was awful!– maybe girls with their tears and laughter were getting more out of life. Shattering! He checked himself, showing one’s emotions was not the thing: having them was. Still, he was dizzy with the revelation. What is beauty but something that is responded to with emotion? Courage, at least, is partly emotional. All the splendour of life. But if the best of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, the purest emotions: and that meant joy. Joy was the highest. How did one find joy? In books it was found in love– a great love… So if he wanted the heights of joy, he must have it, if he could find it, in great love. But in the books again, great joy through love always seemed to go hand in hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought, looking out across the meadow, still, the joy would be worth the pain– if indeed, they went together. If there were a choice– and he suspected there was– a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and the depths and, on the other hand, some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the heights and the depths. Since then the years have gone by and he– had he not had what he chose that day in the meadow? He had had the love. And the joy– what joy it had been! And the sorrow. He had had– was having– all the sorrow there was. And yet, the joy was worth the pain. Even now he re-affirmed that long-past choice. Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy
Man was made for joy and woe
Then when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine
A clothing for the soul to bind.
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
The struggle to submit… is not a struggle to submit but a struggle to accept and with passion. I mean, possibly, with joy. Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy – fully armed too as it’s a highly dangerous quest. Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being
This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.
“Please,” she said, “you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
“Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion's kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.” C. S. Lewis, The Boy and His Horse
I think Layton lived his life in a perpetual confidence of small victories. Not that he appreciated and savored every detail; he simply thought he was doing a really good job all the time. After completing a task, or even in the middle of a task, he would often pump his hand from the top of his head down to his knees, going almost a little too far with the arc of his movement, but then Layton pushed everything too far—not quite to its breaking point, but almost.
His tendency to celebrate was one of the few differences between Layton and Father. Father never celebrated a moment in his life. He complained, he pined, he pounded, but he never reveled. Layton was a reveler. Where he got this gene, I don’t know. Most Spivets were too busy studying, corralling, moaning, or mapping to enjoy the ride they were on. Reif Larsen, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
All the ingredients To turn your life into a nightmare--
Don't mix them!
You have all of the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let's start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.
I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.
Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Strong silk rope.
You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix
Hafiz, The Gift: poems by hafiz the great Sufi master
For the Lord will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord… Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their morning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. Jeremiah 31:11-13