Fueled by Joy

Just about a week ago I signed up for my last set of classes at Meadville Lombard Theological School, the seminary I am attending. After this semester, I will graduate in May, and my internship will come to an end in June. What an incredible journey it has been!

As I am writing about Resilience –our theme for this month –I can’t help but think back over the last few years. As wonderful as it has been, this path to ministry has also required some resilience on my part. Not the resilience that is needed when we are faced with adversity or oppression, but the resilience that keeps us chugging along when we are doing decidedly too many things all at once: in my case, working at UCI, doing my internship here, studying full-time, and raising a child.

There were many times when I was exhausted, but never exhausted enough to question my decisions. There were also many times when people asked me how I am doing all the things I do. What is the secret to my resilience?

A big part is sleep! With all the fun things I had to cut short, I never compromised on getting enough sleep, and that worked miracles. Sufficient sleep definitely fueled my resilience.

Yet even more importantly, my resilience is fueled by joy! The joy I derive from being with my child, from learning new things, and working with wonderful students. The immense joy of doing my internship here, at OCUUC –I could not have asked for a better place! You all are so wonderful, and I am so grateful that you received me with such grace and provided such a loving environment for me to grow! However, there were also moments of joy that I created for myself, that I intentionally carved out during my busy days. At times, I felt guilty doing so –aren’t there more important things I could be working on? But I did so, anyway.

Sometimes, feeling joy during difficult times can seem self-indulgent or inappropriate. Is this a time for wasting time, light-heartedness, celebrating? However, we need joy to get us through hard things –be it that we are simply doing too many things, that we are facing personal hardships, or that we keep on finding ourselves in this truly concerning moment in history when so much is at stake, and so much cruelty keeps happening. This is a time that truly calls for our continued engagement, and for that, we need resilience. In order to sustain this resilience, we need joy so we can take care of ourselves, each other, and the world. As Audrey Lorde reminds us: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

So, take care of yourself, create joy for yourself and others, so we may be resilient, stay engaged, and create the beloved community that calls us!

With love,

Rica