I was reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell the other morning. He writes:
I remember the first time I was truly in awe of God. I was caught up for the first time in my life in something so massive and loving and transcendent and… true. Something I was sure could be trusted. I specifically remember thinking the universe was safe, in spite of all the horrible, tragic things in the world. I remember being overwhelmed by the word true. Underneath it all life is somehow…good…and I was sixteen and at a U2 concert. The Joshua Tree tour. When they started with the song “Where the Streets Have No Name”, I thought I was going to spontaneously combust with joy. This was real. This mattered. Whatever this was, I wanted more.
I had never felt that way before.
I have felt like I was going to “spontaneously burst with joy.” And I was thinking of similar moments in my life. Driving away from the reception at my wedding, watching Orca whales jump beside my fishing boat, staring at my slimy newborn children, limping to the British Library in London, hitting my only home run, waking up on a sailboat, snorkeling past clownfish, watching my students graduate, cleaning a typewriter, finding the right paragraph at the right time… etc. etc. Joy. C.S. Lewis wrote the story of his Christian conversion and called it Surprised By Joy. Marie Kondo who wrote the life-changing magic of tidying up (and has been making a lot of headlines lately) says that you should not have anything in your house that doesn’t spark joy when you pick it up. Joy.
I was thinking about Joy. And then Joshua Tree – the National Park and the U2 album. And then about camping, and then U2, and weddings that played U2 songs, and interviews with Bono and and and… And then I realized that right next to me was a record player. And not that far away from that was U2’s Joshua Tree album. I put the needle down on “Where the Streets Have No Name” and turned it up. I walked down the hall and looked at my son’s face.
His eyes were wide, and he was slowly turning his head trying to figure out what was happening. He ran into my arms and hugged me. I asked if he liked this song and he nodded and hugged. He giggled and his sister jumped into the hug as well. We listened to the music while rolling racquet balls down the hall. Joy.
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