Increasing a Capacity for Joy

This morning I note the beauty of daily morning chores: I feed the sourdough bread starter; I brew the green tea; I stir oatmeal; I clean the breakfast dishes. These chores feel like small, beautiful rituals that make up my whole life. The daily things: this is living.

Later in the morning, the Italian Mama tells me about the deep contentment that comes from “small, tender mercies: walking the dog on a sunny day, seeing a shooting star, watching a full moon rise up over the horizon, the family laughing around the dinner table. . .”

It’s so true. I’ve been seeking the small, tender mercies. I linger over a student’s well-written and insightful sentence, and I consider the privilege of being this close to another person’s mind. I break from grading to roll out the sugar cookies to refill the Christmas cookie platter. I’m wearing a handmade blue apron that matches my husband’s that a dear mentor made us as a wedding gift.

I later stroll through the grocery store and pick out Brussels Sprouts from a big bin. I splurge on fresh blackberries that I’ll serve with our fish dinner. I’m wearing a handmade burgundy hat that a student presented to me yesterday. As an expert in costume design and all things fashion, he even attached a peacock and hawk feather to the wide black ribbon around the brim. I feel so fashionable, so glamorous.

Tonight, we visit friends for dessert, and I’ll bring some cookies since they come with me everywhere I go. I smell like butter and sugar; I wear flour like an accessory.

I’ll watch for the moon rising. I’ll look for shooting stars.

Tomorrow, I’ll start the whole thing again. After the morning chores, I’ll walk with the sun on my face and laugh with family around my table.

Growing older, I realize now, means perhaps most powerfully that we’ve increased our capacity for joy.

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