Parcel to the montage of my life experiences are those bright days before sorrow cast its gray on my little niche. Each happy remembrance balances my perception against those disappointments that shattered my optimism into littered realities. Unlike some whose childhoods are tainted too early by a harsh manifestation of those realities, an innocence slashed by Hell, I lived my early years warmed by joy’s sunlight on Rockmont Road.
One such remembrance at Camp Greenville flashes through my mind when I need to be reminded joy can arrive as a surprise. Before I learned to look over my shoulder, before Hell tainted my trust, camp saturated me with discoveries about nature’s cycles, boys learning to instigate deception and the person I would become. Squinting to see camp’s remaining impressions, I remember living and breathing with the circadian rhythm of youth, hiding and losing myself from time.
Then one day, as if my family worried about their baby, Granny and my two great aunts, Janie and Dorothy, appeared unannounced at the camp’s office. I have never suffered homesickness but having visitors came as a nice surprise. The memory runs through my mind like a 16mm film. Particular to the image were the packages of Juicy Fruit gum and Hershey bars. I’m certain there were other treats, but these were my favorites and stick to my memory as they did to my teeth. The sugar made me popular back at the cabin.
But life is not all sugar and unannounced joys. The clock catches us eventually. So, joys become fruit, the hints and evidence of what St. Paul tells us in Corinthians is God’s increase. He goes on to tell us there can be no increase without a foundation, and that foundation is Christ.
There is wisdom here, and on this point St. Paul and Seneca, the Greek Stoic, agree. Paul says it this way: “If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18). Seneca’s version is more indicting. “I imagine many people could have achieved wisdom if they had not imagined they had already achieved it” (Seneca: Dialogues and Letters).
We should be wise enough to know an answered prayer is God’s Kingdom coming, a resurrection building upon the rock that is Christ. Joys simply open windows into wisdom.
News reached me the other day Christ found my old friend, a good man, gregarious, perceptive to a fault and maybe too honest with those perceptions. I would not have guessed my friend would find Christ. I should have prayed Christ would find him.
The news came as a joy, unannounced, a real Juicy Fruit, Hershey bar moment, a definite increase. Hearing the news delighted me. In a non-believing, cynical world, delighting me more was seeing God spread light beyond Rockmont Road. There’s a reason I don’t get homesick. Windows open.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).