A Simple Joy

I wrote this piece about 20 years ago when I had dreams of being a writer. I had young children at the time and little time for anything, let alone write a book. I have more time now, but this story reminds me why I write.

I write to put my thoughts down on paper to express and share pieces of me.


My body began to warm up quickly, yet I could feel the bitter Chicago wind pushing up against me as I ran. I was not sure of my destination; perhaps I just wanted a few minutes alone with my thoughts. I love being a mother to my children, but at times I just need peace and quiet to hear God speak to me. As the water came into view, I was drawn to it. I went down the path and then walked the stairs to the beach. The wind off of Lake Michigan cut right through my clothes as I walked out on the pier. My mind was still racing with all of my thoughts, frustrations and feelings as I sat down and closed my eyes. The sound of the waves crashing into the pier was like a melody to me. It somehow calmed and soothed my soul. My breathing slowed, and I began to focus my thoughts on the moment only. I opened my eyes and tried to take in all of my surroundings, every color, sound and smell.

The sky was a clear blue and the water was dark and choppy. I took my gloves off and instantly felt the air begin to freeze my fingers. I inhaled a long, deep breath and held it in. I wanted to stay longer, but I knew that I needed to be back at home before my husband and children started their day. As I slipped my hands back into my gloves, I took one last look around. My mind was calm and focused. I felt so alive in that moment. Even though my problems and frustrations had not gone away, this time of peace was a gift to me. I felt real joy to be alive. Over the next few months, the water called out to me. I would be out running or driving and the lake would echo my name. Most times I did not even have time to go down to the beach so soon I had a favorite spot on the bluff overlooking the water. Even if I only had two minutes, I would stare at the water, tune out any people and noise and let the stress flow out of me. As I watched the waves roll in and out, I felt such peace. It was the calm in the storm of my life.

   One evening as I was driving towards home, an enormous moon appeared in the sky. In that moment, it occurred to me that this moon was directly above the lake, my lake. I could not contain my excitement as I drove towards the beach. As I parked my car and got out, I tried not to look at the sky or the water as I walked to my favorite spot on the bluff. It was late and there were no other people around as I sat down on the grass and slowly looked up at this magnificent sight. The moon was so large and so bright that as it shone down, it lit up the water. I knew instantly that this was a gift to be cherished; this was a blessing. I was enveloped in a complete sense of joy and love in that moment that I wished could last forever.

   The next day, I was still feeling the excitement of my experience when I told my children about the full moon. It was difficult to put the experience into words, but I described to them what I saw and heard as well as what I felt. I explained that it made me feel so connected to life and full of happiness. I went on to explain how grateful I was to have been able to experience this beautiful sight. When the next full moon arrived, I hoped for a clear sky as we drove to the beach. I was excited to share this beauty with my children. I hoped that they would have their own experience of the wonder and awe of nature that we all take for granted. They were in their pajamas, and I had my camera in hand as we ran to the bluff overlooking the lake.

The moon was not as large, nor as bright as the last time, nevertheless, I could see the joy in their eyes as they gazed upon this wondrous sight. We stayed for a while and took some pictures. We all sat and stared some; they also ran around a little, but I know that we all enjoyed this time together. Their joy may have come partly from just being with me, and the excitement of going to the beach at night, but I know they too were impressed by the beauty and wonder of nature on their own. They are still excited when the sky changes colors at sunrise and sunset or when the sky is that perfect shade of blue. They look to the earth, sky and water for their own magical moments. I am not sure if they experience the same emotions of peace and love that I do in those moments, yet I know that whatever they do feel, brings them happiness.

 I have learned a truth about life that I am grateful for each day from these experiences. I feel peaceful and connected to God and to life and to the world that I live in. I am happy to be alive when I see the waves wash upon the shore, when I see the colors in the sky, when the rain falls slowly on a warm afternoon. It does not cost me anything to experience these gifts, and I do not need to travel to far lands or perform great feats to see this beauty. I only need to stop and notice the beauty that is all around me. I have come to understand that the joy that I experience does not come from the beauty that I see, but from the beauty that I feel, the beauty of a simple joy.

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Or read more positive thoughts Looking For The Good

All through my day, no matter where I go, or what I do, I am always looking for the good in people, in the world, in my life or even just in my day.


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