The Regenerative Property of Joy

Apr 19 / Lacy Finn Borgo
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. -Luke 10:21NRSV

Notice the first words, “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit…” just let it sink in.

Jesus rejoiced.

Jesus is permeated with joy and delight.

Jesus who tasted both the fullness of heaven and the dusty streets of Jerusalem rejoiced. Jesus shared joy with his most intimate community, the Father and the Spirit. His infectious joy spread to those within his human community as well.

CS Lewis called joy “the serious business of heaven.”[1] Jesuit mystic and paleontologist Pierre de Chardin said that “joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”[2] The regenerative nature of joy means that the action of joy creates joy. It is the ultimate recreating action with Spirit as it’s source and sustainer.

One of the most joyous occasions in western society is a child’s first birthday. We take thousands of photographs of our children with cake smashed into their hair, nose and ears. The delight and pure joy of the first year touches a place inside all of us that longs to be free of mindless habitual patterns of living. We long to have the capacity to maintain wonder and delight in our expansive earthy existence.

Jesus offered thanks that the Father reveals “hidden” things to infants, but they remain hidden to the overly worn and wise of us. What is it that children know about joy that adults do not? Likely there are many things, but maybe one is delight in earthly- or earthy- things.

Young children have not grown bored with the ordinary. They delight in the smallest ladybugs, dryer lint, and rocks. Just take a toddler on a walk and you’ll find yourself fishing all sorts of things out of their hands and mouths. They are eager to experience all that surrounds them with every dimension of their person. A child’s consciousness is not more limited, it is more expansive than ours.

Consider the words of G.K. Chesterton,
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again,” to the sun and every evening, “Do it again,” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike it may be that God makes every Daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” [3]

When my children were young, we walked down our graveled driveway to check the mail every day. Over and over for what seemed like hours to my older and weary soul we followed their delight. They examined each rock, seeing each as an incalculable treasure. They were eager to show me every wandering line, every unremarkable sparkle, and every conjured imaginative history. When naming where we “saw God” just before bedtime, it was always in the ordinary and earthy. They named such ordinaries as peach jam, the cold wet nose of our dog, snowflakes, and bubbles in the bathtub.

Notice the delight the children around you have for the earthy.

How can you let their delight open you to the rejoicing of Jesus?
What regenerative joy is just waiting to be acted upon?
What hidden-in-plain-sight glories are you missing?

[1] CS Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Collins: London, 1977), 94–5.
[3] GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Waterbrook Press: Colorado Springs, 2001), 84.

Lacy Finn Borgo

Lacy Finn Borgo, DMin, teaches and provides spiritual direction for various organizations in spiritual formation and spiritual direction including, Renovaré, The Companioning Center and Mercy Center, Burlingame. Lacy has a spiritual direction and supervision of spiritual directors ministry for adults, and provides spiritual direction for children at Haven House, a transitional facility for families without homes in Olathe, Colorado. Her book Spiritual Conversations with Children: Listening to God Together was released March 2020. Her children’s book All Will Be Well will be released October of 2022. Lacy lives on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains and worships with a local Quaker Meeting.