“Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Oh, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind” (Henri-Frédéric Amiel).
IF THERE IS ANYTHING THAT IS BOTH IMPORTANT AND URGENT, “GLADDENING THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO TRAVEL THE WAY WITH US” WOULD CERTAINLY QUALIFY. Given the amount of gloom that hangs around most people’s lives, we never have a greater privilege than when we have the opportunity to impart a little gladness.
In discussing the synonyms glad, happy, cheerful, lighthearted, joyful, and joyous, the American Heritage Dictionary makes this comment on gladness: “Glad often has reference to the strong feeling that results from gratification of a wish or from satisfaction with immediate circumstances.” We make others glad when the things we do for them fulfill a significant longing or desire that they have, especially the longing to be treated with love, respect, and kindness.
Being glad ourselves and giving gladness to others don’t require much in the way of raw materials. For gladness to occur, it isn’t necessary for some great event to transpire or for some magnificent gesture to be made. Small things can provide great gladness, often better than large ones, and there aren’t many days when we don’t have numerous chances to give and to enjoy commonplace gladness.
Perhaps one of the deepest sources of gladness should be the knowledge of our own personal identities. Simply put, we ought to be glad to be who we are. Despite our disadvantages, each of us enjoys a set of circumstances that we can rightfully be thankful for. Our individually unique families, our distinct physical and mental characteristics, our geographical places to live and work — all of these things, and many more, are “pastures” that we should be reluctant to trade for any of the “greener” ones that belong to someone else.
Not everything in life gives gladness, of course. But the things that don’t are very often those that deepen our gratitude when the darkness finally disappears. What we want are hearts that can feel the whole range of things that need to be felt, each in its rightful time.
In heaven above,
And earth below, they best can serve true gladness
Who meet most feelingly the calls of sadness.