Rejoice in the way things are

Kathy rejoices at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, 2008

Kathy rejoices at the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, 2008

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
Laozi

It sounds good, but it’s sometimes almost impossible to do. Life can be so difficult, and contentment so elusive even in relatively good times. We seem wired to want to improve, grow, acquire and discover.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with any of those aspirations, provided they don’t increase our frustration with reality.  When genuine hardship sets in, we may wonder how we ever felt unhappy before.  The “normal” state we once took for granted, maybe even disdained, suddenly becomes the most pressing goal for which we strive.

One year ago today my quote was about the creativity of contentment, and how it relates to my love of photography.  I chose a photo of my friend Kathy at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, partly because it’s such a beautiful setting, and partly because Kathy totally gets it about loving to capture life through photographs.  Here’s another one of her I took the same day.

It’s easier to be content when we make the time to enjoy such beautiful settings.  In all the ways that matter, the world is ours.  Amid sunshine or shadows, I hope we are able to keep a sanctified space inside our hearts where we can rejoice every single day.

One year ago today:

A real and active virtue

21 Comments

  1. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 (KJV)

    • Absolutely, and the “great gain” has many dimensions.

      • how wide and long and high and deep . . .and __________ (fill in the blank (s)

        • I have to assume that is a reference to Ephesians 3 – wherein we are asked to grasp the love that is described in the same passage as surpassing our ability to know or understand. A wonderful infinity!

  2. Sheila

    Good Friday morning, more rested and more hopeful, I pray. I just hope that God will fill your day with strength and joy, in yet another day of recovery. We too, (the Vann clan), are in a bedside setting here in Bristol. Bill’s 91 year old dad is in rehab with plans to be home for Christmas. It’s been a long 3 months! We took the PARTY to him last night, instead of being upset that he’s not home yet, for our visit. We wheeled him to a conference room where we had a spread of barbecue and trimmings, caramel cake, and sweet tea. The three sons, their wives, and DAD were content. I know God was smiling on us! Rejoice! Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, today is indeed more rested AND hopeful. Last night Matt and I left Jeff’s room pretty late at night – I told him “now that you are doing much better, we will sleep until we wake up tomorrow” (at Fisher House) — and I woke up this morning at 11:10 am! And Matt was STILL ASLEEP! 🙂 But we all feel so much better today. It made me smile to read of your party for Bill’s dad – I know it must have meant the world to him. What a great thing for all of you to do! If only everyone in rehab had such support! It also makes me happy to think that he will be home for Christmas. Three months is a vERY long time. In May, three WEEKS felt like forever to us! I join you in rejoicing! Thanks for sharing your celebration with us.

  3. MaryAnn

    Ah! The striving to be the best version of ourselves, as God purposed for us, and the balance of living in contentment. Thank you for reminding us so eloquently to appreciate the “everyday”.

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. I’m so happy to visit with you here!

  4. Are you offering a reward to the person correctly identifying the severely pruned bush in the left foreground of the photo?

    • I had not even noticed that! But it’s a botanical garden, so they must know something we don’t…unless it was vandalism!

      • Here we go ’round the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Bush, the _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Bush, the . . . (Get it?)

        • I’m not sure I do — Mulberry?

      • Precisely

  5. Oooh, I’m sure many of us could use a bit of indoor botanicals on this chilly, chilly day! The photos look so inviting. I thank you for being a photographer friend because then I actually end up in a few token pictures! 😉 Thanks for featuring me in your photo today & last year.
    So glad to read that Jeff is doing so much better. And I rejoice in your opportunity to sleep in this morning! How wonderful. My own challenges seem about 50% improved when I’m rested and can face them without physical exhaustion. Love to you all.

    • Kathy, I have plenty more! Stay tuned. And yes, sleeping well makes a world of difference. Love to all the Yaccinos, too, including Molly and Kayla!

  6. merry

    And I rejoice that you and Matt received a good night’s rest. 🙂

    • Thank you, Merry! Nothing like some good sleep to help me feel human again. Another answer to prayers!

  7. raynard

    Julia this was a Jerry Springer week on my job or as I say Never a dull moment in the eye of the storm.And why does Vanna White still have a job on Wheel of Fortune( I can do that job lol) Its like me wearing sandals on the beach with cotton white or black dress socks ..guess its time now to paint my widows black,put aluminum foil on my head .How’s that song go I always feel like someone’s watching me..lol Be blessed time for chocolate and a cup of tea

    • Well Raynard, just remember what my Daddy always said…just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you! Hee-hee! If this was 10 or 20 years ago I might make a snarky comment about Vanna White but compared to some of what is called “talent” these days, she seems more intelligent all the time. That’s my crabby old lady comment for the evening. Chocolate and tea sounds just right!

  8. Michael

    I would have said it was a Fig tree- some kind of Ficus.

    • Mike, I think you’re right. Those leaves appear to have 5 lobes as in the online photos of fig leaves. I couldn’t find any photos of mulberry leaves with only 5 lobes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Checking the website from that garden, it includes both ficus (fig) and mulberry, but many more of the ficus, if their website is current.

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