I remember the first time I witnessed a solar eclipse. I stood in the parking lot of my elementary school along with my class, waiting for the strange darkness. Some classmates had homemade devices that allowed them to see the eclipse without harming their eyes. And though I don’t recall actually seeing the eclipse myself, the excitement of the event and the eerie midday darkness made it a memorable day.
This first day of March coincidentally marks also the first day in a new rotation of the Joyous Gard cycle. For those of you new to Joyous Gard, that’s a rare occurrence, and so in a special sort of way, this a festival day in the life of The Joyous Gard Program. I’m always excited to begin another cycle. And for me it’s a pleasure to define once again the scope and mission of the program.
Beauty is easily overlooked as a vital element in planning. It is more common to look at the mechanical aspects of living – a task orientation – without regard to one’s sense of life. But I believe that beauty itself is the cornerstone of living well. And in my opinion, living well means living beautifully. Life should be a dance.
Life is best thought of as an active state of mind, integrated by thoughts of both yesterday and tomorrow. And I believe that in order to live well you must often remember and think about your relationships and your connections with other people, with nature, and with God; to live well is to see your life as a tapestry being actively woven and producing the beautiful signature of your unique experience.
Physical life is quickly escaping us, much like exhaling. But mentally, we inhale and store our experience along with the reasons for our laughter and our joy. Sorrow and pain are but threads of experience that produce strength in the tapestry’s weave; they are inescapable and necessarily human. And together, we mourn the loss of innocence. Our own mortality is yet another bittersweet reminder to live well and live beautifully.
Day 1 Guide
Joyous Gard is the weaving room in your mind and spirit where beautiful designs come together to form your life’s tapestry. Today, begin, or renew, the habit of taking some time during the day to reflect on your life and the beauty of its design.
The Castle of Joyous Gard then, which each of us can use, if we desire it, is the fortress of beauty and joy. We cannot walk into it by right, but must win it; and in a world like this, where there is much that is anxious and troublesome, we ought, if we can, to gain such a place, and provide it with all that we need, where we may have our seasons of rest and refreshment.
— Prelude, Joyous Gard, A.C. Benson
© 2005, Levi Hill