On Small Joys

On Small Joys

Take a moment, maybe?

Our lives are brief.  We breathe through the hard, we let tears fall one after another, chasing each other’s trails, dripping off our chins.  We laugh hard, we laugh with our whole selves, bending low with the joy, then throwing our heads back, laughter erupting forth; the sound joy makes.

In between, in the even breathing, in the blank expression, washing a dish, thinking of how to untangle a work knot, wondering if Sadness will come and turn out the lights inside; even there…

A warm cup of coffee and a blanket.

A phone call with a friend whose soul knows yours.

A flower that dares to open fully, radiantly.

The way of dogs, to lay their heads on knees just then.

The candle, lit and nestled into a trough of sand, prayer in light and wax.

The child, wild, who wants suddenly a kiss.

Why not learn to enjoy the little things-there are so many of them.

-St. John Chrysostom,  347-407 A.D.

What Not To Say To Your Poor Friend

There is no steady trajectory to it, no tidy line going forward, gaining momentum, hurling towards measurable goals, dreams, visions.  There are only questions, large and small.

Will we be able to pay our tax bill?

Will we be able to keep our kids at the school they love?

How much debt is acceptable to do so?

Will we ever have extra after the bills are paid?

How long can we put off getting our childrens’ teeth cleaned?

When can we afford the MRI for our daughter’s knee?  What will happen if we can’t?

Which of our possessions should I try to sell?

What if our car breaks down again?


“You deserve it.  You had all those kids.  You got yourself into this.  What did you expect?”

Not everyone sees children in the same way you do; as planned dots on your trajectory, tidily managed.  Also, three of our kids were surprises (those can happen, you know).   We’re glad they’re here; we’re doing everything we can possibly do to raise them well.


“Well, you’ll just have to cut back and save.”

You should come and see how we live each day.  Do you like beans?  Cloth diapering?  Hanging out the wash?  Butchering your own meat?  Repairing clothing?  Selling your things?  Working three jobs? Canning and gardening out of necessity, not just as a hobby?  No tv?  No cable?  One cellphone?  No video games?  Used clothing and shoes and toys?  No cleaning products, just vinegar and baking soda for everything?  No dishwasher?  

“It’s not about how much you make, but how much you save.”

Even if we can’t save because there isn’t enough to break even?


I do not ask for your sympathy, but just PLEASE, PLEASE don’t say such things to folks who are drowning.  We are already down, no need to kick.