She invited me this morning: ‘Come for a walk and experience the breeze’
‘Tomorrow, perhaps? I’ve got a busy schedule today.’ I responded.
Mid-morning, she asked me to go to the window and look at the rain-soaked leaves.
‘Not now. I’ve got a post to write.’
‘Spend ten minutes playing ball with Pablo?’ she gently asked me this evening.
‘Not today. I’ve got to finish this article.’
Every day she invites me and most often I turn her down.
She’s that voice in my head,
That invitation to joy
But I keep refusing –
Postponing joy!

If you ignore the little voice that keeps extending an invitation to joy, it may go silent. Listen. ~ Cheryl Richardson.

Today I listened. Ask me what I did? You may not believe me. But then I did tell you about slowing down.

I lay down this afternoon and fell fast asleep. I woke up when Jose called, spoke to him and went back to bed – to read and laze. All this while knowing I had a post (or two) to write, comments to answer and lots of little things to do around the house. There was another voice in my head, the one I’m more prone to listen to – guilt – but I told him to shut up and go get a life! 😉

I want to be nice to myself. To respond to that invitation to joy every time I hear it.  I want to live in the present moment and enjoy it.

A great example in this story.

Sharing a story from his childhood in Africa, Dr Wes Stafford,  tells of the time French Colonial officials attempted to conduct a survey in a village. They wanted to know what the expectations of the people were and what they wanted in the future. Dr Stafford writes in his book, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most:

The chief and his tribal elders tried to explain to their exasperated visitors that they really didn’t know the answers to those kinds of questions, because the future had not yet arrived. When the time came to pass, then the results would be apparent. This, to be sure, made the officials less than pleased. And they left, in a huff.

That day, at dusk, the village gathered in the chief’s courtyard. He said, “I want to talk to the children tonight.”

“We are not like them,” the chief told the children. “To them time is everything… the smaller that men can measure the day, the more angry they seem to be.”

The chief went on. “The present is now–the days we live today. This is God’s gift to us. It is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. The present will flow by us, of course, and become the past. That is the way of a river, and that is the way of time. The Frenchmen cannot wait for the future to arrive. They crane their necks to see around the bend in the river. They cannot see it any better than we can, but they try and try. For some reason, it is very important for them to know what is coming toward them. They want to know it so badly that they have no respect for the river itself. They thrash their way into the present in order to see more around the bend.

They miss so much of the joy of today all around them. Did you notice that as they stormed into our village, they didn’t notice it is the best of the mango season?

Though we offered them peanuts, they did not even taste them.They did not hear the birds in the trees or the laughter in the marketplace. We touched them with our hands, but they did not really see us. They miss much of the present time, because all they care about is the unknowable, the future. The present is all we can fully know and experience, so we must.

We must love each other. We must smell the hibiscus flowers. We must hear the singing of the weaver birds and the grunts of the lions. We must taste with joy the honey and the peanut sauce on the rice. We must laugh and cry and live.”

What better invitation to joy can there be than the words of that village chief?

Are you responding positively to every invitation to joy you get?

In case you’re wondering about the comments from earlier, that’s because I’m republishing this post from 2014. I’ll confess that it was such a great reminder to me, that I was tempted to rework it and republish this post.