"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude." Denis Waitley
Do you know anyone who embodies Waitley's definition of happiness? I do. Several people, in fact. They shine like beacons in my life, models for me to emulate and gifts to be appreciated.
Our community recently lost a well-loved woman, part of an old family whose name is on businesses and ball fields all around our town. I arrived at the four-hour visitation fifteen minutes after it started and had to wait in a line that snaked through the funeral home for over an hour before reaching the family to offer my condolences.
Watching the grieving family greet hoards of people hurt my heart. I knew how exhausted they would be at the end of the day, how their heads would ache from the tears, how their hearts would hurt from loss and the hard, hard process of helping a whole community say goodbye.
Part of me felt guilty for being in the line and adding to their work of grief. After all, I wasn't a close family friend. I had never even met the deceased, though I'd prayed for her for months. Her eldest daughter is the principal of my sons' elementary school and has done amazing things for both boys. One of her daughters-in-law is a fellow Stephen Minister named Anna, one of the most spiritually happy people I know, a blessed example of Waitley's version of happiness. I wanted to be there for them.
So many people wanted to express their sympathy...both a blessed outpouring of love and a burden of social obligation at the same time. I know how it feels to simultaneously appreciate the condolences of friends and strangers and also want to curl up in a ball and be left alone.
While I waited in that long line, I prayed for peace for this family. Peace, peace, peace like a river. God's peace that passes understanding.
Anna always knows what to say to make people feel appreciated and loved. I wish I had that gift. I'm a writer, and words come easily sitting at a keyboard, but with people, words sometimes feel so blocked...by emotion, by love, by my certain knowledge that they are both powerful and empty at the same time. Anna was first in the receiving line and when she saw me, she pulled me into a never-ending hug and said, "You're here! You waited in that line! I felt a calm coming from somewhere, and now I know where. I felt it. Thank you!" She sounded so happy to see me.
Anyone who says prayer doesn't work is spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb. I am not exactly what you'd call a calm, peaceful person...I'm fidgety and talk too fast and too much, and my brain goes off on its own at awkward times down strange rabbit trails. But that day, my prayer turned even me into an agent of God's peace. Me!! And Anna felt it. Anna, who habitually taps into love, grace, and gratitude, knew.
There were so many prayers going up for that family, and Anna knew how to be grateful for them, to feel them, to let them touch her and to turn them around and use their strength to bless and comfort others. Anna is so much further along in her spiritual happiness than I.
She blessed me that day more than she can know.
Happiness is a process...the series of experiences that come when we are actively looking for ways to feel love, grace, and gratitude. Hard times happen, hard losses break our hearts. But if we look and listen, if we expect love and grace to come to us, they do.
Thanks be to God.
Are you spiritually happy? Who is your spiritual happiness role model? Please share your experiences with this sort of happiness process...either experiencing it yourself or seeing it in others.