Joy and Sadness

This morning, my world is glistening. Every branch encased in ice. As the sun shifts and the breeze blows, the whole scene sparkles. It is amazing. Awe inspiring. I am overcome with emotion. One by one the branch-cicles thaw in the bright sunlight, fall to the roof, and shatter. I feel a deep sense of nostalgia; a longing for a time when I was younger, looking out of a different window, at those other ice covered trees.

As I let out a sigh for the passage of time, I realize that I am feeling joy and sadness in the same breath. These are not competing emotions. They can co-exist. I can be both overwhelmed with joy and full of sadness. My heart is big enough for both.

On Friday, I will be attending the wake of a dear friend’s father. I will hug her as tightly as I can. I will not want to let go. I will likely bawl my eyes out. I will squeeze her children, her husband, sisters, aunts, cousins. We will all feel the deep sadness that his passing carries. We will all feel the small sense of relief it carries, because his suffering is over now. For his Catholic family, it also carries with it an underlying sense of joy, because he is united now, once and for all, with his wife who passed away just a year ago. They are together, in peace.

When I leave the wake, I will be heading to work-, to teach a Joy and Laughter yoga class, of all things. I will move directly from sobbing in a roomful of people, to belly laughing in another roomful. I will move from profound sadness to outward silliness. But the sadness will still be inside of me while I giggle gleefully. Just as the joy is always there, deep down inside of me, even when I’m crying my eyes out.

We can be at once deeply saddened and full of joy. These are not competing emotions. They can co-exist. Our hearts are indeed big enough for both.

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