Soulful Home for Parents & Families: What Does it Mean to be a Family Opening to Joy?

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What Does it Mean to be a Family Opening to Joy?

We have to be here, at this time and place, to open to joy.

Let me say that again, because it’s very likely that in reading that sentence, you went somewhere else–into your own thoughts, perhaps, or maybe evening a judgment such as, “Yea, Teresa…duh.” So let me invite you back:

We have to be here, at this time and place, to open to joy.

Are you with me? Good!

Opening to joy moves us into the liminal space between the physical and the spiritual. On the human, physical level, opening to joy allows us to more fully inhabit our own bodies, to forgo the obsessions and resentments of the past, the fears and worries of the future, and instead attune our cells to the happiness available nowhere and no time else but here and now. 

With that in mind, we have plenty of games, activities, and questions designed to help families come back to the present this month, where they’ll be ready to accept the gifts that are all around them, opening to the abounding joys. 

Opening to joy doesn’t mean accepting that which is unacceptable, such as sexism, racism, classism, and hate. Rather, it means that we refuse to cede the fullness of our humanity to those who would perpetuate those iniquities, and rather, we relish in our joy as an act of celebration and resistance. This is one aspect of the concept of Black Joy, which we explore more fully in the At the Mailbox section this month. The idea of both/and around justice work and joy also features in our At the Bedside story. 

I read a poem this month by Forrest Gander that described someone to whom happiness came naturally. I don’t know if that’s you or not. Some days, I don’t know if that’s me, either. But I do know that opening to joy can be like a spiritual muscle that we exercise with practices such as noticing the exquisiteness of life around us, choosing to release ourselves from the grip of fear and resentment, and prioritizing playful engagement even when hanging back might be easier. This month, we’ll do these things and more as we practice being families opening to joy together.

Teresa, on behalf of the Soul Matters team