Moments of completely unadulterated rapture in life are few and far between. Elusive as the proverbial unicorn and equally impossible to chain to one’s side, it’s best to treasure the fleeing sensation. The sagacious recognize and savor rare and incandescent moments of bliss.
Astonishingly, simply watching someone else find the zone of their delight and function in it can be equally gratifying. This happened to me while I was over at a friend’s yesterday, the two of us lolling gently in the sun of the backyard, amused by the energetic exploits of her little poodle. He was totally enthralled in bubbles spewed out by a bubble machine; leaping, yipping and barking his way across the back-yard, oblivious to all but the wafting froth. He was in his bliss. Apparently, this will utterly absorb him for hours; she has to actually stop the machine in order to get him to take a drink! You couldn’t help but laugh, watching this concentrated canine focus and absolute joy; an ancient hunter’s instinct much too powerful for that little frame.
There’s nothing like the unabating storm of detail that flurries through everyday life to obscure desire and simple pleasure. We’re going through the motions at top speed, but suddenly discover we left elation and enjoyment in the dust several kilometers back. I’m struggling to recall the last time a pure moment of tranquillity materialized; when yearning, mental or otherwise, was fulfilled. Talent, desire, opportunity and resource align to produce a flash of such sublime fruitfulness that the internal Richter scale gets broken; when you say to yourself “I was born for this”. Though they evanesce rapidly, these seconds possess a transcendent quality that brands itself on the memory. We cherish the potentiality we are capable of.
It’s become currently fashionable in academic circles to study the anatomy of happiness and the multiplicity of components that contribute to over-all well-being for the long term. Scientists as well as arm-chair analysists are deep in considerations of ‘hygge’; the Icelandic, especially Danish, mentality of creating environments that embrace simplicity in life and find comfort in prevailing conditions. Finding your bliss has become big, serious business. As homo sapiens, we’re not giving up any time soon in the hunt for perfected happiness.
This blithe and supernal elevation is not found on the path you would reasonably think, however. There’s no doubt that prospering in this life – (a thriving career, a beautiful home, a healthy family), is a goal achieved and gratifying to our being. Consider the depth of the human spirit, however, and you’ll realize it’s actually quite a superficial contentment. Many possess all these things and still wander, discontent. While they cannot name it, they are seeking the profound, supernatural fulfillment that is actually restorative to the soul.
When Jesus stood on the mount and began to preach the beatitudes, He set his listeners on their ears. To the Jewish mind, being blessed and therefore, accepted in God’s sight was inexorably tied to wealth, possessions and reputation. (Not much has changed). When He began to preach the counter-culture of the Kingdom of God, it was astounding and offensive. He was revealing the hidden, spiritual paths available through faith which re-unite our spirit with our soul, and in turn create healing in the body. Though few manifest it, this is the definition of bliss.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:3-12
Perplexing, isn’t it? Frankly, this does not seem like the path to emotional gratification at all. How does happiness come from submission; satisfaction from poverty? Please explain how denying yourself and picking up the cross (the grossest symbol of degradation and suffering) solves anything. The Greek word for ‘blessed’ used here is ‘makarios’; conveying the idea of great favors, extending long from God’s presence. It carries the thought that the possessor is extremely well-off, because they are participating in behaviors that are already imparting the future bliss of heaven to come. Not only are they confering benefit, a shield of blithe confidence also protects the heart at the same time.
We struggle with happiness because our flesh hates to abandon prevailing world systems. “Seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness” seems a highly inferior way indeed to “have all these things added unto you”. It flies in the face of every logical progression of work; every well-trodden pathway to success and prosperity. Only by completely laying down our limited ideas of cause and effect can we enter the river of God flowing through our own being.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matt 7:13-14 NKJV
Of all life’s joys, nothing compares to the times when, after a long and bitter season of your own desire suffering a painful and lingering nekrosis, God’s faithfulness shatters the gloom. The promise you had totally given up on floats in on the most gossamer and iridescent of agents. You've been in the righteousness bubble all this time! The resurrection cannot be denied.
Well done, good and faithful servant: enter into the bliss of your master.
Thus says the Lord:
Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV
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