I don’t think I’ll continue to number my posts as I did during Lent, but I’m out of ideas for today. Whether the weekend is two days long or four days long it always feels like it should have been longer by at least one day.
No complaints about a great weekend, but I will admit to wishing that it could have gone on. We spent Monday (a school holiday as well as a holiday for government workers) out in the woods at Hilton Falls in Milton. It was a party for my son’s 9th birthday. He likes to be out in the woods so that’s what we try to do for his birthday.
We did a short hike to get to the waterfall. It’s a beautiful wooded trail that goes up onto the escarpment and along the Bruce Trail for a bit and the area around the waterfall is gorgeous. The waterfall is about twenty feet high and at this time of the year it was running quite full. By June it’s a much weaker flow and you can actually climb behind it, but in April you wouldn’t want to do that anyway. There are lots and lots of great rocks and hills to climb and play on as well.
Near the top of the falls there is a firepit that is stocked with really good firewood provided by the Conservation Authority and there’s a really nice grill so you can cook on top of that if you don’t want to roast everything on sticks. The fire was already going (it was quite busy, but in a nice way) so we grilled a whole bunch of sausages, hot dogs and some veggie skewers.
We then had a pinata and after that everybody was so stuffed with food and candy that we barely used up any of our marshmallows – even with the nutella for the s’mores. I remember thinking at one point that the temperature was the in the range where you don’t notice it – you don’t feel cold or hot – you just feel right. Apart from the occasional waft of smoke from the fire the air was deliciously fresh with a light wind blowing.
By the end of the day everyone was exhausted in the best of ways. I remember those days as a kid where it was just so much fun that you didn’t want the day to end. Every so often there would be a day where by the end of it, there would be this euphoric feeling of glory as if I had just gone through the most incredible experience ever and all was well with the world.
It’s a feeling I haven’t quite been able to match since becoming an adult. I’m not sure what it is. I think that there is a sense of freedom when you’re a child that is unique in life because if you’re shielded from the need to provide and care for yourself then maybe somehow the potential for bliss is greater.
It’s a funny thing because I think that a lot of the time when you’re a kid, you feel constrained by a lack of freedom – the fact that someone else is calling the shots feels limiting. There’s a feeling as a kid that once you get past that boundary of parental authority that the world will open up like a flower. There’s certainly some truth in that but there’s also the reality of the countless other limits and boundaries that are waiting to greet you in the wider world. It’s not bad it’s just a little different than what you might have expected.
Whatever it is, I can think of a few moments in my life as a child where there was a sense of joy that was without bound that felt uncommonly sweet. I’ve never been able to match it in the same way since I’ve come into adulthood. I can’t say for sure if my son experienced that elation yesterday. It certainly looked like it at certain points. I cut the day a bit short when he still wanted to go exploring, so it wasn’t a constant flow of joy, but it was pretty steady. Even with the need to leave before he was ready there was a promise to return. It seems unlikely that we’ll be able to match the day in exactly the same way, but we can try.
Even joy evolves and matures as I grow older. The joy I feel now seems much more like a warm fire than a jolt of energy and that’s all right with me. I suppose the full maturity of this evolution is the joy that is felt just sitting back and watching the lives of those around you – the person sitting back on a couch at a family gathering and watching all the younger bodies go flying by. It is perhaps a bitter-sweet joy, but it is joy nonetheless.
But if you want to go further, that experience of joy would only be the full maturity of joy in this life, because the hope of heaven means that there is a hope of a further evolution or transformation even beyond all this. Even as we grow and mature and as things change and evolve, there is a promise in Jesus that this will not come to an end. In some ways, all of our work in this world is an effort to cultivate joy for ourselves and for all those around us, and the promise we have in God is that this work does not need to come to an end. Even if we fall short in this world with all its trouble, there is always hope for more, and for me I think that this hope makes the changing and shifting experience of joy in this life all the more sweet.