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Choose joy this fall

Rev. Kevin Coder, chaplain | Sep 18, 2021

This morning there was a chill in the air, as a few leaves were slowly falling from the trees. Fall is here! I love fall in Minnesota: the return of football to the gridiron, hooded sweatshirts, pumpkin spice everything, and kids heading back to school.

When I was a kid, I was always excited for the first day of school. I couldn’t wait to see my friends and usually had some new fresh school clothes to sport. There is something about the freshness of new beginnings... but this fall just doesn’t feel that way. I’m sending my kids off to school, and there is a lot of anxiety about another season of COVID and the Delta variant.

This year it feels like I have to manufacture energy to get into gear for fall. I am mourning the end of summer and preparing for what looks to be another pandemic winter. The news is relentlessly awful.

I read a blog recently, and the author said it takes courage to be joyful. I have been sitting with that ever since. To choose joy in the midst of tragedy and the daily onslaught of news articles that get me anxious about the future –– that is indeed a faith-filled, counter-cultural statement about life. I believe that one of the most important things we can do is choose joy.

Henri J.W. Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”

Often when things are difficult, our focus is on problems, the anxieties of what could happen, and the fear that things will never change. Each day we have the choice to feed our fears and anxieties or to feed our joy.

When you choose to feed your joy, you choose to reside in gratefulness. This is life-changing because you begin to appreciate the people around you, the places you exist in, and the things you experience. You become grounded in the present moment.

I encourage you to take 15 minutes today and make a "joy list." It’s simple: write down the things, people, and places that you are grateful for... a list of things that bring you joy. Choose joy! 

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