Over the past few years, I’ve been on the search for delight. I keep gratitude lists on the back of my prayer lists. I use the hashtag #chasingtinydelights on Instagram. I’ve turned into the woman who points out sunsets and birds and fascinating bark on trees, not just to my children, but to other adults as well. I no longer apologize for loving the things I love or reveling in some experience or appreciating some part of myself that I’ve learned to enjoy.
There are many reasons for this. The world can be a difficult place. This has always been true and it’s more true for some people than for others. Right now, we are starting the second year of a pandemic. It feels like the world as we know it is splintering apart. Some of it needs to be splintered and I can rejoice; some of it doesn’t and I can mourn. Any kind of splintering is terrifying in the moment though.
Not only is that how the world is but, by personality, I lean toward the serious. I see stacks of problems far beyond my reach all around me and my own personal responsibilities tower above my capabilities some days. That, combined with the splintering world, is enough to be crushing.
Delight and wonder and gratitude are the supports that resist the crushing. Of course, it’s God that sustains us and carries us, but I believe they are part of His method. They infuse strength that helps us carry the weight. I do not pretend that this is true for everyone. That would be ludicrous. I’m acknowledging my limits. Like all writers, I write from my context and my experience. It isn’t universal. It won’t apply to everyone. That’s why we are all here. All of our stories combined make up the human experience, not just my own. But delight is not an extra; it’s fundamental to living well.
I also think that delight is a main piece of our humanity. Delight is connected to our senses. We are a tactile, tangible people. We touch and smell and taste and hear and see. And we can do it without noticing (though I think we will always notice the bad experiences) or we can pay attention and draw strength from the good experiences. God made our senses. They have their place; those senses should not drive us or control us. However feasting and fasting are both necessary and we should be paying attention to both as we do them.
God made the world and, fractured though it is now, it is infused with delight. Flowers and sunsets explode with colors. Squirrels’ tiny hands move in a blur while they munch nuts. The moon rises low over a field in the middle of the afternoon. To notice and revel in these experiences can be worship to the amazing God who made those things. We glimpse bits of God’s wonder in the wonder of the world.
Bandwidth in my own life has always differed. Some seasons it seemed we struggled to survive. There were tiny babies or struggles we weren’t sharing with the internet or fill in the blank with all the things that also go with being a person. I’ve cultivated this attention to delight in different ways as I discovered the difference it makes. But lately I can see patterns popping up.
I love to cook. Sometimes cooking is a huge chore because we have to eat so often and two of my boys have special dietary needs and food can become something that has to be prepared and gotten to the table. But I also love the colors and the flavors and how something brand new can be made from heat and salt and seasoning. I’m planning menus of mostly no-thinking food but also a couple of new or more interesting meals to look forward to making and eating. One of my boys loves to help me cook and I’m enjoying spending time with him as well.
For a while (several years ago) I chronicled my daily outfits on Instagram. It was a regular reminder to put together clothes that I loved. I am a very visual person and seeing the pictures of the outfit helped teach me what I liked and how to shift things where I wanted to. I’m going to start doing that again. I probably won’t post it to IG most of the time, but I’m going to take the pictures and occasionally even put together a week worth of outfits post like are often featured on Cup of Jo. Right now, I’m revamping my wardrobe a little. I love the idea of having a small and multi-purpose closet with ethically made clothing. So I’m going to be curating my closet over the next few years hopefully. I want pieces in my closet that feel like me and require little thought.
I occasionally write poetry and terrible though it may be, I reserve the right to share it here on the blog if I want. This blog is going to be a creative space for me, that will probably include more conversations about women because I love them and sometimes I have to say them so that I don’t drive myself and my husband crazy. The newsletter is fairly outlined; I have topics for each week of the month. I’m running a cohort for seminary women with Kristin Young called The Order of Junia and it’s going to be phenomenal but focused. (I’m very Protestant but I love the monastic vibes of the cohort title.) Even my Instagram space is pretty pointed when I am there. This is going to be my playground. It’s my collection of odds and ends. I’m going to gesture at birds and gather words that I love and if you want to gaze at them with me, you’re welcome. It’s going to be here either way.
ps-Part of this feels immensely privileged. In fairness, compared to much of the world, so is this computer I’m holding on my lap. I can be overrun with guilt; that is actually my first response but guilt gets me nowhere. Refusing to pay attention and delight in the world actually doesn’t make the world better for anyone else so I should find another way of contributing besides being miserable.