Surprised by Joy…

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  (James 1:2-3)

Joy?  I think.  In the face of trials?

“Joy,” according to C.S. Lewis “is never in our power…” (Surprised by Joy)

When I had my third child one midsummer day I was besieged with post-partum blues.

On and on they went until, in the end, I surrendered to the possibility that I may never be happy again.

I felt no anger or fear, disappointment or excitement, apprehension or contentment.

Indifference infused my soul.

I went through the motions of mothering, working, eating.

I did what I needed to do to care for others.

Hubs was on a world tour with the Bee Gees, he would be gone for 11 months that year.

When the days shortened my flower garden outside faded and walked away with my spirit.

By habit I brought my potted plants inside to the conservatory to protect them from the bitter cold.

As Lent crept up on me with its talk of penance, ashes and death I sank deeper into the doldrums.

Easter was beyond my reach that year

One morning, on entering my green and pleasant room to water, I noticed my Kolanchoe, a gift for the birth of my second son two years ago, had come into full bloom seemingly overnight.


It was late February, the deepest part of winter and God had taken his loaded paintbrush and splattered the plump green leaves with flowers of brilliant red.

My heart soared and a welling bubbled in my chest.

A fleeting memory of something unknown but desired with every fibre of my being washed over me.

A visceral jolt of longing that vanished as soon as it arrived, breathless, on my doorstep.

I touched my face,

For the first time since my daughter’s birth there were tears on my cheeks.

I was powerless in the face of Joy.

I tried to cling to this fleeting glimpse of paradise.

The blooms stayed for months and months and months as slowly my depression left me.

When we sold our family home some 20 years later I gave it to my son (for whom the plant was given) and it sits on his Tiny House porch strong and rangy.  When it flowers it does so intermittently and without reserve.

This year I visited him for his birthday and he showed it to me excitedly,

“I was feeling low last week about our company and the birds,” he told me, “when this plant surprised me by opening all its buds and cheering me up no end.”

I looked over at the blooming Kolanchoe.

“Every morning I come out to sit and bask in the beauty of its colorful display,” he said joyfully, “and if you look closely, there are still more to come.”

I smiled because I had looked closely.

Although the beauty of God’s creation is all around us sometimes He has to jolt us back from the harshness of our human existence to remind us, with something as simple as a flower, that He is here.

I’ve watched delicate blades of grass emerge strong and fresh from garden walls.

I’ve marvelled at the strength of wild violets as they poked their pretty little faces through the asphalt of a pavement in London,


and I am heartened all over again by the story a friend told me of how God also used a flower to speak to her this week.

In her garden is an old iron pot that used to have flowering plants in it.

At the end of spring, after all the rain we had this year in Texas, the pot was full of water and its soil was black and nasty.

She turned it on its side to drain and completely forgot about it because it sat on a part of the deck she didn’t go to anymore.

One morning she had a full watering can of water and thought she should use it on some plants on the other side of the deck rather than use the hose.

Something caught her eye…it was a healthy plant with a beautiful petunia growing on it, right in the middle of the old iron pot, full of nasty, black, dried-up soil,

Petuniathat had been barren for years!

She felt the power of Joy,

“that reminds us, it is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’.” (C.S.Lewis, Surprised by Joy

According to James we are to,

‘Consider it nothing but Joy when you fall into all sorts of trials…’ (James 1:2).

When things look murky, dark, black and hopeless

God says,

“Trust Me.”

And when we do, the Joy will come adorned,


with the resounding silence of His creation.


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2015-08-10 15:46:19 Reply

I am sorry I was away for so long that year. Forgive me.


    2015-08-11 19:54:11 Reply

    All part of the job!!

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