Sunday, 2019 September 08
“Joy Revisited: A Celebration of Joy”
Presented by Kasey Castleberry
Note: This was an integrated presentation so includes the readings as well as the sermon. To listen to the sermon, please click here.
by Kasey (2019)
Welcome to our beloved community. Here you are free to be yourself, for we judge neither your preferences nor your attributes, and we honor both the paths that you have chosen and the roles for which you had no choice. Your worth and dignity will not be questioned here.
Our liberal faith is the uncommon denomination. We are congregations of individualists
embracing commonality. We praise the traditions that we share with other religions and yet celebrate our differences as we encourage all people in responsibly searching for their own personal Truth and Meaning.
We are pleased that you have joined us this morning, and we hope to welcome you again.
Disclaimer: Together we begin the journey to Joy
For years, I was a slave to Anxiety. I finally loosed the shackles of my bondage on 2010 OCT 10, the day that I crashed and allowed myself to see beyond the filters of shared reality. That forever changed me.
To share this journey, the way of my Joy Practice, today’s service will be all about me, my poems, my words, my Truth. However, I will let you in on a secret. Though I am the center of my reality, so are you in yours, and at the utmost center of YOUR being, therein you will find us all. As such, where one finds footing within the great unknown, others also may find the way. And, so we begin…
by kasey [2012.01.06]
Behold the symbol of our faith,
Fed by differing beliefs,
Merging together to become,
One fine flame burning brightly,
In beloved community.
“Once Around Again” by kasey [v.2008.05.30]
With its unusual rhyming scheme and playful tone, this poem reflects the exuberance of Joy.
Pip! Pip! Arise my sweet,
To meet the morning dew
With you – I plan today,
And play with great intent,
Content with all, then nap
In happy sighs of grass,
Which fast dries in the sun,
Such fun, We’ll doze ’til noon,
Then soon enough after,
Laughter green and bright fades
To shades of gentle blue,
So true to my recall
Of all the hues inside,
Abiding there, as night
Delights us with dreaming.
“The Promise of Joy” by kasey [2019.09.06]
When we find ourselves lost in the darkness of deceit,
Together we shall kindle the light of Truth.
When we find ourselves under the boot of oppression,
Together we shall overcome by the hand of Justice.
When we find ourselves surrounded by hate,
Together we shall be freed through the power of Love.
When we finally understand that we are the light, the hand, and the power,
Then together we shall manifest the promise of Joy.
“Giving” by kasey (v.2018.08.11)
We give, not because it is required.
We give because we care,
because we are thankful.
And, when we offer our gifts in love,
Love, in abundance,
is what we receive in return.
Being a colony consciousness, [smile] WE will introduce ourselves by reading kasey’s website, “The List: 100 things about kasey”. Just Kidding. Here is a shorter version:
- I am an introvert (yes, really) who lives a simple life with one dog, six cats, and a number of raccoons and other wild critters.
- I am a student of life who has a BA from GSU, with training in symbolic interaction, philosophy, and religion. (I would have a degree in Procrastination, but I waited too long.)
- I like to think of myself as a philosopher poet who plays with languages, practices Joy, and believes that he creates his own spherical reality.
- I joined Mountain Light on 2006 January 22 and have held many positions.
- I am currently the Communications Coordinator, Webmaster, Data Collector, President, and Odd Man in / Odd man out – okay, just odd.
Sermon: “Joy Revisited”
My sermon today is a revisit of my first, “A Celebration of Joy”, originally delivered in 2012 and reworked for 2014. So, after a five-year hiatus, l am hoping that the third time is a charm.
The reason that I changed the tile to “revisited” is because without diligence of practice, things tend to fade. That is not to say that I ever lost my Joy, but there have been times when I have not held it as firmly as I would like. Even recently, less-than-joyful moments have manifested, and Mr. Ire rose from within. He broke a few dishes and used a bit of “sailor speak”.
But, because I never lost my Joy, I can calm myself, clean up the mess, and wonder why I let it happen: “Why did I create THAT reality?” The answer is always different but exactly the same… Like energy attracts, and I grew lazy.
From “The List – 100 things about kasey”:
#22 Sometimes, I think that I am growing wise and enlightened. Then, I find something that one of my fur-babies has left for me to clean up. After I stop shouting, I realize that I am just an ordinary man after all, full of human flaws and emotions. [Hey, that is kind of enlightened… LoL]
#23 I thank God for children and critters, since they keep us humble. And yet, they let us feel like giants on occasion. [List]
It is for that reason that I revisit my “Celebration of Joy”. It keeps me humble.
A Celebration of Joy (v.2019) by Kasey Castleberry
Once upon a time and not so very long ago, I was a worrier. I worried that I worried too much, and I worried that I did not worry enough.
Though it was occasionally mitigated by hypomania, I had it bad. In fact, I was so riddled with anxiety that it was nearly impossible for me to speak in front of any group, no matter how small or familiar it might be. Thankfully, my journey into Joy changed all of that.
Mind, I sometimes still hear the faint murmuring of anxiety within me, but I deny it the energy that it needs to control me.
With that preamble out of the way, allow me to share my tale of transformation, and it begins with a song:
“Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow, why then, oh why can’t I?” [Arlen]
I first heard Judy Garland sing those words as Dorothy Gale, in the 1939 Film, The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy had been told by Auntie Em to go and “find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble.” [MGM] Shortly thereafter, Dorothy muses to her rambunctious, little dog: “Some place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be…”, and then she breaks into that beautiful song. [Wiki]
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” speaks to the melancholy in which so many of us too often find ourselves. It reminds us how we instinctively know (or at least hope) that there is a place, somewhere and somewhen, in which we can be happy. How about you? Can you remember some dark moment in your life and that longing for a land that you heard of once in a lullaby?
In a letter to Harold Arlen, the song’s composer, Ms. Garland wrote:
Over the Rainbow has become part of my life. It’s so symbolic of everybody’s dreams and wishes that I’m sure that’s why some people get tears in their eyes when they hear it. [DVD]
I must confess, I was one of those teary-eyed dreamers. I can remember identifying with Dorthy’s never-ending search for happiness, somewhere over the rainbow, and longing for a world of wonder and brilliance, instead of the shades of gray in which I was living.
Though I much prefer the book’s ending, I applaud the moral of the movie’s closing: It is not the situation in which you find yourself that is important, it is how you choose to look at it that matters. Just like Dorothy, we all can find joy in the most unlikely of places – if we sincerely are willing to look.
Before I can tell you about my own journey into Joy, however, I should first try to answer an important question: Are Joy and Happiness the same thing? “Happiness”, as defined by Dictionary.com, is the quality or state of being happy. It is good fortune, pleasure, contentment, joy. [Dictionary]
As you might suspect, many of the definitions that I found for “happiness” linked it with the word “joy”. In fact, it is commonplace to treat “happiness” and “joy” as synonymous terms.
Originally, however, a great majority of the European words for “happy” had the meaning of “lucky”. For instance, our word “hap” (as in “hap and circumstance”) comes from Middle English and has the meaning of “chance” or “fortune”, and the word “happy” meant “lucky”. [Harper]
An example of this is the phrase, “happy as a clam”, which dates back to the early 1600s. Originally, the phrase was “happy as a clam in the mud at high tide, when it can’t be dug up and eaten.” (Is anyone surprised that was shortened?)
Essentially, then, the word “happy” implies a lucky or fortunate situation which then leads to the feeling, showing, or expressing of joy. [Collins] Thus, the aforementioned happy clam expresses short-term joy as a result of a particular situation, in this case a non-event. Specifically, it is pleased at its good fortune of not being invited to the clam bake.
If, as I suggest, happiness is a temporary expression of joy, then what is “joy”? In English, we acquired the word in the early 13th century from the Old French “joie”, meaning “feeling of pleasure and delight”. [Harper]
Personally, I think of Joy in terms of one of Plato’s Forms, that is, as an intangible, divine ideal from which earthly concepts manifest. [Plato] As such, Joy would be a vast ethereal plane to which we have ephemeral access, usually through events which we perceive to be lucky or fortunate.
The Christian website, Awakenings, states it this way:
The “happiness that lasts” is never found because it is actually impossible to get happy and stay happy. If life is based on obtaining happiness, then we will always fall short because life is always changing as the wheel turns.
It is far better to seek “joy”. Joy is related to happiness, but it is a deeper experience. In the search for happiness the individual focuses upon himself, but joy moves a person out of a self-centered preoccupation and provides an orientation towards others.
Joy is an experience which connects us to that which is “Greater” than we are. It connects us to the creative power that is more than the “I” or ego. [Awakenings]
That definition is very similar to the Zen teachings of Charlotte Joko Beck, the author of Nothing Special: Living Zen, which our book group read in 2011. Joko said:
Body tension will always be present if our good feeling is just ordinary, self-centered happiness. Joy has no tension in it, because joy accepts whatever is as it is. [Beck]
As I prefer to phrase it: Happiness is situation dependent, and Joy is a state of being. Put another way: Happy people brush against Joy, whilst joyous people live within it.
For me, Joy is the Divine embrace. I believe that we all are so deeply loved by that which created us, whether you call it God or Nature or whatever, and that if we surrender to Love, we can know nothing but Joy, even in sad moments and in hardship.
Clearly, having such a lofty definition of Joy predicates that Practicing Joy must be a part of one’s spiritual journey. For me it is, and Joy is a never-ending process of becoming, and it is firmly situated within this glorious, eternal moment which is the magnanimous now.
(This is when some of my friends would roll their eyes and say: “Oh, no, he’s talking again.”)
It might help to understand that I believe in a spherical reality, that we are always in the “here and now”. For me, “then and there” are simply well-constructed illusions. Nevertheless, for the benefit of those of you who insist on believing that time is linear (and you know who you are), let me pretend to follow those precepts and explain my journey in YOUR terms.
For years, I had been contemplating embracing a Happiness Project. In mundane terms, the problem that prevented me from trying it earlier was that I thought that it would be too difficult. After all, anyone can be happy for some finite period of time, however long or short that may be, but happiness always ends. Too often it ends in anguish.
That all changed for me on the morning of 2010 October 10. (10-10-10, a curious creation that.) It was a Sunday, and I was up early, having spent a long, dark night full of torment and wretchedness. Ill health, disheartening personal interactions, and numerous other difficulties finally had gotten the best of me. I was completely defeated and ready to surrender.
My philosophical search for the “Good Life” had failed miserably. My addiction to anxiety had led me to unmitigated despair. I could no longer find even the slightest hint of happiness in the world — no fix, no hope. I had finally hit bottom.
That fateful morning, I decided that I would hide myself away from friends and family, I would quit my congregation, and I would ask my doctor for anxiety medication. Finally, I would admit my failure.
OR… I could try that silly Happiness Project over which I had been ruminating noncommittally for some time. Simply put, desperation had led me to a point where I no longer have anything to lose. So, I played a favorite coping game of mine, which I call “The Worst Case Scenario”. If I failed and things continued to grow even more unbearable, then I would be seeing my doctor in a couple of weeks anyway and then could ask for pharmacological assistance.
So why not try it? At least I would know once and for all if I could actually create my own reality through conscious choice rather than simply creating it by default. Besides, I deeply believe in this premise and needed to see it manifest.
You may have noticed that when I first started the practice, I referred to it as my Happiness Project. I did this because I began by deliberately focusing on being happy; however, I did not choose a happy memory, I chose a happy feeling. I would focus upon this feeling whenever I caught myself straying into an unhappy moment. Essentially, I became mindful of happiness, and that was the key to becoming Joyful.
It was sometime later before I realized that it was indeed Joy and not happiness in which I was dwelling. This is why the distinction of focusing upon a feeling rather than an event becomes important. Situations make us happy, but Joy is the underlying state to which that happiness connects.
In spite of the evidence of my increased Joy, many of my friends repeatedly warned me that I was doomed for failure. Had I been reaching for happiness, which is dualistically infused, instead of joy, I would have failed. That is because dualism requires a balanced equation, and for every moment of happiness, theoretically I would need an equal portion of unhappiness.
Fortunately, Joy is not dualistic. It is an expression of the Divine, like Warmth, like Light, like Love. In truth, they have no opposites of which a balance is required. They only have degrees of being known, of being embraced. So-called Despair, Coldness, Darkness, and even Hate are not conditions of opposition. Instead, they are the absence of Joy, Warmth, Light, and Love. They are states in which we have chosen NOT to embrace our creations fully and responsibly.
They are, in my most humble opinion, a denial of our higher nature, a self-imposed separation from that which some call God. Of course, nothing can be separated from All-That-Is; however, we can deny our divine nature and construct imaginary walls around us, which gives us the comforting and discomforting illusion of alone-ness.
On that auspicious October morning, I decided the time had come to dissolve those walls, and I let them evaporate into the great mysterious mist of possibility from which they came. Suddenly, I felt the joyful embrace that, unbeknownst to me until that moment, had held me all along. I was instantly healed, not completely, though absolutely enough that I was noticeably transfigured.
As my journey into Joy continues, I expand the parameters of my appreciation of Life. I deliberately remind myself to be grateful of my blessings, to see the worth and dignity in all people, and to remember that the divine dwells in everything, no matter how great or how small.
Perhaps most importantly, I have learnt to love myself in the process. Yes, I can even love this deluded old fart who sometimes thinks he is still adorable and cute, even if some mirrors would have him believe otherwise. (Got to love those silly mirrors.)
So, if you are unhappy and want to find joy, here are some things that you should stop doing immediately:
- Stop trying to make things perfect.
- Stop holding on to the past, especially old grudges.
- Stop letting others bring you down to their level.
- Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
- Stop focusing on what you do NOT want to happen.
- Stop being jealous of others.
- Stop blaming other people for your troubles.
- Stop looking to others for your happiness.
- Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others.
- Stop trying to be someone you are not.
Better yet, be mindful of the beauty in small moments. Feel the joy therein, and that joyful vibration will attract more joyful moments. It is simple physics: Like energies attract.
If I forget to be mindful of my Joy and doubt rises within me, whispering in my ear that I am no one special, asking me who am I to dare to speak my personal Truth; then I try to remember the wisdom of Marianne Williamson. She said:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. [Williamson]
So, if your life’s journey leads you to a place of desperation where you doubt or fear your own magnificent power, if it leads you to a place where the joy of your divine nature seems like a distant memory, do not forget that you create your own reality. As my mentor Seth-Roberts says, the point of power is always in the present. [Seth] Give yourself permission, therefore, to let your own light shine, now and always. And, remember…
“Somewhere over the rainbow, Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” [Arlen]
Extinguishing the Chalice
words by kasey [2019.09.07]
We are the light of Truth, the hand of Justice, the power of Love.
No deceit, no oppression, no hate can extinguish our flame as we manifest the promise of Joy.
“cavorting by kasey [v.2004.12.11]
counting clouds am i
and naming them ralph
and pete and eloise
and laughing with them
as we play amongst the high heavens
and they name me seymour
which makes me smile
though I know not why
neither the why of the naming
nor the why of the glee
but then that is the joy in playing
being ever in the moment
and leaving the knowing for “later”
Go in peace.
[List] svinsanctum. “The List: 100 things about kasey”. Kasey Castleberry. 2010, 2019. http://www.qwoxar.com/svin/kasey/list.php
[Arlen] “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by Harburg. 1939.
[MGM] The Wizard of Oz. Motion picture produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 1939.
[Wiki] Wikipedia. “Over the Rainbow.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somewhere_Over_the_Rainbow
[DVD] The Wonderful World of Oz Documentary – The Wizard of Oz. 3-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD. 2005.
[Dictionary] Dictionary.com, LLC. 2012. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/happiness?s=t Harper: Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2010.
[Collins] Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged. 10th Edition, 2009. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1979, 1986. HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009.
[Plato] Saint Anselm College. http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/platform.htm A form is a pure and abstract property or quality. The concept was meant to solve the ethical problem of how humans can live a fulfilling life in a contingent, changing world where every thing they attach themselves to can be taken away.
[Awakenings] Awakenings. “Happiness or Joy?” Daniel H. Johnston. 1997. http://www.lessons4living.com/joy.htm.
[Beck] Nothing Special: Living Zen. Written by Charlotte Joko Beck. Edited by Steve Smith. 1993. HaperCollins e-books, 2008.
[Williamson] A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. Written by Marianne Williamson. 1992. HarperCollins. Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Return_to_Love Marianne Williamson’s quote is often attributed to Nelson Mandela. Here is what Ms. Williamson had to say about the matter: “Several years ago, this paragraph from A Return to Love began popping up everywhere, attributed to Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inaugural address. As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people.”
[Seth] The Nature of Personal Reality. Seth (Spirit), Channeled by Jane Roberts [Seth-Roberts]. Notes by Robert F Butts. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall . (1973.05.02, Session 660)