“Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.” –Jeremiah 15:16
Sometimes my day has a sort of Sesame Street feel to it. Just as Sesame Street teaches young children about numbers or letters by focusing on a particular letter or number for a given day, sometimes I find that a particular word keeps coming back to me throughout the day, and I have come to recognize that when it does, it is often something God is trying to teach me. (Like most Sesame Street viewers, I benefit from simple lessons reinforced by repetition.)
Today has been a Sesame Street kind of day for me, and the word of the day seems to be “delight”. This morning I visited a couple in their home, and afterwards, the only word I could think of to describe the people and my visit with them was delightful. This afternoon I met for the first time with a new spiritual director, and again, the entire experience, from the drive through the fall colors of Pennsylvania to the conversation with this gentle soul to the return trip, was delightful. When I returned to the office, I settled down to work with a lightness in my spirit and a sense of joy in my heart. Once those administrative details were done, I took a few minutes to try out a guided meditation podcast that had come to my attention. What I know about meditation could probably be inscribed on the head of a pin, but I do know that folks who meditate or engage in silent prayer regularly tell me that it’s good to pay attention to words, images or themes that come to mind during the experience. You can probably guess where I’m going here: once again, the word that came to mind was “delight”.
Jesus once told his disciples that if they wanted to enter the reign of God they needed to receive it like a little child (Luke 18:17). So maybe those Sesame Street moments are the way of faith. It’s a good reminder to me not to get too big for my theological britches. It’s also a good reminder to pay attention to delight. My daughters are five and seven, and I continue to be amazed at their capacity for delight, especially in ordinary things like a bright red maple leaf or a puffy white ball of dandelion fluff. I know that I personally would do well to cultivate that sense of delight in the ordinary and everyday, and, inspired by their example, I’m learning to do so.
Delight is defined as “a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment,” and I believe that’s what the life of faith is supposed to be. To be sure, we’re going to have days that aren’t all that delightful, but I don’t think the spiritual life is intended to be a grim trudge through a vale of tears. Jesus told those same disciples that he wanted his joy to be in them and that he wanted their joy to be complete. (John 15:11) A few minutes later he encouraged them to pray so that their joy might be complete (John 16:24), and then he himself prayed that their joy might be complete (John 17:13). (Apparently Jesus was using the Sesame Street method, too.) Perhaps the art of discipleship is learning to cultivate joy and foster our sense of delight. Perhaps the true meaning of the spiritual life is to take as much delight in God as God seems to take in us.