Finding Joy in the Simple Things

ice cream is happiness
A young person with light skin and brown hair appears happy holding a soft-serve ice cream cone. This image was licensed from Envato.

The more we seek out joy, the more we are likely to experience it.


I don’t know about you, but this summer hasn’t felt much like summer to me. Yes, there has been a bit of a slowdown in church work. Yes, the weather feels like summer and the drought is an on-going reminder of the lack of rain. Usually, though, I feel a kind of lightness in the summer months, at least in spirit.

This year, however, I feel a kind of heaviness that is more than just the struggles my bodymind has with heat. I know I can attribute the heaviness to the happenings in this country and around the globe that make me question the existence of goodness and love in the world.

As a result, this week I made it a practice to seek out joy in the ordinary. And I’ve been taken by surprise more than once. Yesterday, on the drive to the dog park with Morgan, I noticed two minivans parked at Dairy Queen. They were filled with elderly nuns in white habits. As I drove by, one nun was carrying two cups (likely Blizzards) as other nuns were climbing back into the vans. She looked delighted.

I found myself smiling all the way to the dog park. The simple delight of ice cream on a July afternoon isn’t something I can personally enjoy. Yet, the clear happiness of those two vanloads of nuns was contagious.

There were other moments this week in which my heart felt lighter. There was the discovery of wild black raspberries and strawberries growing throughout the dog park. I picked a bunch and made syrup from them which I’ve used to sweeten my tea all week.

There was the shrieking laughter of a toddler as Morgan greeted them with exuberance. Then the simple pleasure of floating in the pool as the sun set. So many other moments of joy…

It was a good spiritual practice this week to be on the lookout for joy. I encourage you to be mindful and present for the simple moments that can lift our spirits. When we forget to attend to joy, the world, and our existence in it, can feel unbearably heavy.

What is bringing you joy this week? And what have you done to pass it on?

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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10 thoughts on “Finding Joy in the Simple Things”

  1. My joy can be found in the backyard. My flower gardens are whimsical and beautiful, especially when filled with bees & butterflies. At any time I can pick and endless supply of kale, herbs, romaine lettuce, and of purse, raspberries. My fruitful patch has helped me make 4dz half pints of jam so far. And the chickens continue to make us happy, providing eggs and endless time watching their crazy habits.
    Plus I went back to work after 11 days off and I felt joy seeing my coworkers and patients. Who knew?!!

    • Jill, your backyard is a little bit of heaven. And who would have guessed that going back to work after a vacation could be joy-filled?!

  2. Joy was presented to me as I rode my bike to work, seeing a woman getting out of a SUV. Her legs were swung from the vehicle sideways while one pointed up toward the sky and the other extended straight forward balancing her body while she stepped from the SUV with 3 paper coffee cups. Just as I passed her I commented how graceful she looked. I pedaled onward smiling at the image shown me as I also seen her face beaming bright.

  3. There’s no question that in the world we live in today we ON PURPOSE need to find things that bring us joy. It may take some effort but it can be done. Kathy L.

  4. I’ve been pondering the concept of aging through the eyes of joy instead of regret, anger and sadness. I don’t know how 74 years of life transpired. I wonder if I’m leaving this place in better shape than I inherited it and when is it ok to gradually replace “doing” as a measurement of my net value with “being”. And being ok with that conscious choice.


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