The Infallible Sign of Joy


Joy can be a trembling wonder.

It’s like the trembling of a dog who wags his tail so hard that his whole body shakes when you come into the door at the end of a long day.

It’s like the little girl who quivers with excitement on Christmas Eve.  The days and weeks of waiting are almost over.  She can’t wait to fly into the living room, land under the tree, and dive into brightly wrapped gifts.  

It’s what a sixteen year-old feels when he finally gets the courage to call her on the phone. His hands get sweaty and his throat goes dry, but he somehow manages to ask her anyway if she’d like to go see a movie with him, and she says “yes!”  

It’s what a bride feels just as the words “I do” whisper from her lips, and what a groom hears feels when he hears her say them. 

It is, I think, what a woman feels when hard labor has ended, and she cradles her newborn to her breast.    

It’s what mom and dad feel just before the dean of students calls their child’s  name to walk across the stage and receive a college diploma. 

It’s what you feel on the first day of a new job or when the realtor hands you the keys to your first house.  It’s what you feel when your son, who has struggled to get his bat on the ball, finally gets his first hit in a little league game; or when your daughter, who hasn’t played much this year, gets in the match and scores the winning goal for her soccer team.

It’s what you experience when the doctor says, “you’re in remission.”

It’s the astonishing exhilaration the followers of Jesus felt on Easter, when they realized that he was alive after all.  Fear drained away. Joy radiated through their entire beings, and overflowed into the world. 

We tremble with joy when anticipation becoming delight, yearning becoming fulfillment, and the long search becoming sudden surprise.

“Joy is,” Teilhard de Chardin said, “the most infallible sign of the presence of God.”