Life Is Not a Burden, But a Gift


Joan Chittister writes, “Joy gives us strength for the unknown.”

The older one gets, the more one encounters the unknown.

So developing disciplines of joy are essential for living into the fullness of life.

Read Chittister’s insights below:

Life is not meant to be a burden. Life is not a problem to be solved. It is a blessing to be celebrated.

Every dimension of life, its gains and its losses, are reason for celebration because each of them brings us closer to wisdom and fullness of understanding.

From each and every moment of life we learn something that makes us more alive because we are now more knowing than we were before. Loss and loneliness, darkness and depression all sear the soul and cleanse it of its sense of self-sufficiency. Suffering directs it to the God of life.

But so does bounty and beauty and abundance. These give us a foretaste of wholeness. These are the palpable manifestations of the goodness of God in our lives. Both of these things come unbidden. They are not signs of either our sin or our sinlessness. They are simply signs that the God of life is a living, loving God.

Learning to celebrate joy is one of the great practices of the spiritual life. It confirms our trust in God. It affirms the greatness of creation. It seals our dependence on God. It attests to the beauty of the present and asserts our confidence in the beauty of the future. It recognized the mercy and love of God.

Every year in celebrating our birthdays and the birthdays of those we love we are called to remember the gift of life itself. We take time out to ask ourselves what we have done with our lives. We see again the potential of every single life in the world.

When we celebrate the good things in life, we trace them to the Creator who gives without merit, open-handedly, out of the very goodness of community, love, and support that are by nature at the base of the human condition.

Joy gives us strength for the unknown. It leads us into the emptiness of life with hope in the God of surprise with a smile on our faces.–Joan Chittister, OSB

From The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)

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