According to Aquinas, Joy is born of Love. That is why joy is an anchor when struggle, strife and suffering swirl all around us.
Aquinas teaches that “love is the cause of joy,” because “everyone takes joy in their beloved,” and “love and joy constitute the basis of all attraction—love is the origin and joy is the end result.”
Love and joy go together, so both love and joy constitute our “noblest acts.” Indeed, “the only person who truly has joy is one who lives in love.”
The consciousness of God is about love and joy, and the same is true of human consciousness. A call to love is a call to joy. And a call to joy is a call to love and sharing that love.
Joy is deeper than sorrow and requires attention before, during and after the Dark Night of the Soul and the Dark Night of Society and the Dark Night of Democracy and the Dark Night of our Species and the Dark Night of Mother Earth overtakes us.
The Dark Night is not to be trivialized or denied. It is something as real as a broken heart or a broken promise. It can happen on a personal or interpersonal or community or societal or an eco level.
The teaching from the mystics is to be with the dark and learn what it has to teach us and to respond from that place.
And also to stay in touch with Joy even if it is a silent touch or distant memory or future hope. To look for Joy even in the midst of darkness.
Terry Tempest Williams teaches this story:
Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.*
*Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 118, 433, 116.
And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom For Hard Times, pp. 36-38.
Also see Fox, In the Beginning There Was Joy: A Cosmic Celebration for Kids of All Ages
Banner Image: European Robin singing in an English wood. Photo by Tom Bradley on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Aquinas that love is the cause of joy? And with Williams that that birds—if not always humans–help us to remember that the world is meant to be celebrated?