There‘s a television show on Monday nights called “Castle.” It’s about a mystery writer named Richard Castle who helps New York City homicide detective Kate Beckett solve tough cases. Beckett became a police officer in part because her mother, a community activist, was murdered and the case was never solved.
In one episode, Castle notices that Beckett keeps a stick figure in the top drawer of her desk at the precinct. And it’s very odd-looking. The sticks that form the limbs don’t match. The head looks like one of those football-shaped coin purses. All of it appears to be held together by dried, gnarly seaweed and twine.
Castle wants to know the story behind the stick figure. Beckett tells how on the day of her mother’s funeral, her father noticed she was very sad and took her to Coney Island. They walked along the beach in their funeral clothes for a long time, and it became a special time for both of them. At one point, they gathered items that had washed up on the beach and made the stick figure.
So, why does she keep it in her desk drawer?
“He’s a reminder,” Beckett says, “that even on the worst days, there is a possibility for joy.”
I love Beckett’s stick figure. It reminds me that joy isn’t so much a feeling as it is an attitude or an outlook. And, ultimately, a choice. In a sense, we make our joy, just like Beckett and her father made the stick figure.
Joy can touch any moment, if we choose to allow it.
If we define joy as that soaring feeling we get when things go exactly the way we wished they would, we won’t have much joyfulness in our lives. Those moments are few and fleeting.
Joy is different. It involves stepping outside the moment and seeing the big picture. Recognizing grace working all around us, in us and through us. Being thankful for our place in an amazing creation. Reminding ourselves that we’re loved unconditionally and endlessly just as we are.
And loving back.
Love is the twine that holds the stick man together. By loving others, we create joy for them and for us. And because we can always choose to love, there is always a possibility for joy.
Have you had some of those Beckett moments when someone helped bring joy out of your pain? Can joy and pain co-exist? What helps you create joy in your life?