Friday, January 21, 2011

Moments of Explosive Joy

On the post I did on parenting taboos, I mentioned that I really had experienced that overpowering emotion the first time I saw little Judah. It really was this wave of euphoria, joy, wonder, and love that made me burst into tears and pretty much be unaware of my surroundings while I held him.

Thinking about that moment made me think about moments like that throughout life. As is mentioned on that post, I'd imagine it's actually pretty rare to experience that stereotypical overpowering emotion at that moment of seeing your child. We always think of people as being filled with that explosive joy when a child is born, at your wedding, maybe at graduations... you know... the stereotypical big moments. In the end, often those big events aren't as we dream, and our moments of explosive joy come unexpectedly.

Where have my moments of explosive joy been? It's a little difficult to discern between moments of total peace and contentment and moments of just overflowing joy. Sometimes they overlap. I'm not very expressive, so I tend towards those quieter moments. There was an overflow of such "moments" in high school, probably because there was an overflow of emotions in general.

papua sunset

Village sunset with Rachel
I remember several moments tied to sunsets in which I was absolutely overwhelmed with joy. Once, standing at the top of the airstrip in a remote village with Rachel (pictured above), watching half the sky turn brilliant orange as we made our way back from a day traipsing around the jungle. Actually, that same trip had several moments. One, running through a tropical rainstorm to our school meeting for a message and singing, and on arrival sitting outside the building as everyone sang and watching a massive lightning storm evolve before my eyes across the sky. It was mighty and astounding. Another day, after eating dinner around the fire with the villagers and sharing food (of which they contributed jungle rat and crocodile and we contributed hamburger helper. So... jungle rat hamburger helper), we gathered in their meeting house in the dark as they beat their drums and chanted and began dancing and jumping in a pack, men in the middle and women around the outside. Being in the midst of a rhythmic mass of people, dancing with villagers and my friends, energy surging...

Another time, after my only water skiing trip in my entire time in Indonesia, a group of friends and I were on Uncle Tom's boat, speeding across lake Sentani to our car when the entire sky bloomed with colors. Then when it fell dark, seeing the phosphorescence turn the water into glowing rivlets when I put my hand in the water - like in Avatar, except real. I felt surrounded by people I loved and aware that I was living a dream.

Sunburnt and content

Phosphorescence is crazy cool, and this is sort of out of the mood, but here's a video of someone else experimenting with phospheresence.

There was another time, when I was a Junior and about to say goodbye to a dear friend. We drove our motorbikes up to the top of the hill I lived on and sped along these back roads with the wind making us feel like we were flying. The scenery stretched out all around - the rolling hills, the lake, the powerful mountain on the other side, the late afternoon sun making everything golden and beautiful. Amazing how many of my joy-filled moments are right before saying goodbye.

Sentani views

There was the time in Chicago, sometime in our later years there, when my girls group of four piled into Missy's car in our pajamas and drove to Museum Campus. We piled out to the shoreline and huddled under a blanket together and watched the beautiful nighttime view of the city spread out before us. I think another Moody memory would be during snow camp, when my friends and I were piled on top of each other on couches around the fireplace after an afternoon of intensive snow tubing.

My girls

My wedding was too stressful for me to find it explosively joyful, that moment came afterward, when Isaac and I had driven away into the sunset and our gorgeous little bed and breakfast. When we arrived I gave Isaac my wedding present to him, which included letters I'd written to my future husband all through my teenage years that remained sealed. Seeing him read them in tears just overwhelmed me with the knowledge that he loved me, that he treasured and was awed that I was his wife... what a beautiful thing! That moment was explosively joyful.

First moment with Judah
And yes, the moment I saw Judah, squalling and slick, and felt overwhelming physical emotion, because that was my son. A baby, my baby, that had grown in me.

Today as I drove home from work, the sky was like fire and the music coming from my ipod was beautiful, and I thought again how these days, these precious days Isaac and I are experiencing with a newborn, may perhaps be some of the most treasured days of my life. I watched the sunset and thought about why sunsets so often accompany my moments of deep joy. I think that gorgeous sunsets and moments of great beauty remind me of the beauty God creates and spreads before us. Today that sunset reminded me of the great love of my God for His creation, and I rejoiced... in beauty, in this particular sunset, and in the blessings I am experiencing of a precious new baby and a wonderful husband, a home with friends, and wonderful family. I feel such love... love for me, and my own love for these people.

I could nearly explode with joy.


Melissa said...

i can definitely relate to having such moments of joy right before saying good-bye. i have quite a few of those. it's weird to think about how many!

Jaimie said...

I think it was in that link I gave you that this was discussed some. About how you have more of those moments in childhood, although your overall happiness is lower. The same for parenthood, because you're sort of tied to childhood again.

I never have those moments, because I'm such a cynic. Except with writing. I'm not a cynic about that, lol. I've had moments of deep, overwhelming love for my characters, which is freaky and weird and abnormal but very real to me.