Crown’d with the sickle, and the wheaten sheaf,
While Autumn, nodding o’er the yellow plain,
Comes jovial on.
(James Thompson)

ALTHOUGH WE’RE ALMOST DONE WITH AUTUMN FOR THIS YEAR, IT’S GOOD TO CARRY A LITTLE OF AUTUMN’S JOVIALITY INTO THE COMING WINTER. The quiet restfulness of the cold season will need to be punctuated with the gladness that is such a natural part of the harvest time. Indeed, it wouldn’t hurt us to partake of a little joviality throughout the year. “Jovial” travels in the company of words like these: playful, genial, cheerful, merry, and mirthful. These are good words. Shouldn’t they describe us more often?

To be fair, we should admit that we sometimes overestimate the importance of things like joviality. We shouldn’t expect to be in a jovial mood all of the time, and we shouldn’t see that sort of happiness as the ultimate goal of life. But still, if it’s not the most important thing, neither is it totally unimportant. It has its place, and when it makes an appearance, we need to enjoy every bit of it. “Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length” (Robert Frost).

It comes down to our choice of perspective. There are certainly many serious issues in life that have to be dealt with, and they should be dealt with seriously. There are even some discouraging, depressing, and degrading realities in the world, and these can’t be ignored. But what should be our basic, overall perspective? Where should we put the greater emphasis: on things we despise or on things we’re thankful for? I believe we gain an advantage when we adopt the latter perspective, the thankful one, and since we’re in a particularly jovial season of the year right now, let’s enjoy it!

You may have noticed that joviality is contagious. If there are seasons and circumstances we enjoy, it’s a special treat to enjoy them in the company of others. There’s really nothing in life more pleasant than shared joy. So at this time of year, we need to be grateful for those with whom we have the privilege of being jovial. Winter is just beginning. Before it’s over, we’ll need the memory of some mirth!

“When large numbers of people share their joy in common, the happiness of each is greater because each adds fuel to the other’s flame” (Augustine of Hippo).

Gary Henry — +

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