Daily Guide — May 2005

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 2 Science

Sometimes I feel like my brain gets out of whack. I mean it can happen almost overnight that my excitement about things shrivels to nearly nothing. I don’t really understand how it all works or what happens; I just know what it feels like to be lost and disconnected. Do you ever feel that way?

Earlier, I wrote about a “science of the spirit.” I think that we are in need of a science of controlling our experience and our emotions. Maybe I’m speaking more for myself, but I feel like we need a methodology to rekindle our emotions and our enthusiasm about life, especially at times when we’re left feeling uninspired and down.

Repeatedly, I query myself about the things that make me feel alive and excited about the future. And they, I expect, are the bricks for the foundation and the walls of my Joyous Gard. As we go forward, I will be writing more about the architecture of Joyous Gard.

Day 2 Guide

Think today about some of the things that enliven your spirit. Take an hour or so during the day to list some of these things.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 3 Work

This morning I’m thinking about morning, the part of the day when people are preparing for work. Shopkeepers are opening up, restaurant workers are preparing for lunch, teachers are organizing their day, and parents are getting their children off to school. Grocers are putting up produce, maybe sweeping the sidewalk, and salespeople are laying out plans for the day.

Morning is really one of my favorite times; for me it’s a time to gather my thoughts and get ready to tackle the day. I liken my work in the morning to what goes on backstage prior to a performance. Morning is a restorative time, and just as the sun slowly rises in the sky, so does my mind ramp up to higher levels of awareness.

Mornings also establish my mood and tenor for the rest of the day. I consider it good fortune when the skies are clear and the weather looks favorable. It just puts me in a better mood to see the sun rise. This morning has been good example of that – not a cloud in the sky. I know it’s going to be a great day.

Day 3 Guide

What is your favorite time of day? When do you feel the most hopeful and energetic? It’s good, I think, to develop a daily routine for your mind. Just as you brush your teeth and get dressed in the morning, so should you get your mind in order. Consider the list of items that you jotted down yesterday – those things that make you “come alive.” How might you incorporate some of those elements into your morning or evening routine?

Today, spend a little time, maybe an hour, figuring out how you might change your thinking patterns over the course of a day. The key here is to get rid of things that keep you down and replace them with those things that are life-giving.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 4 Hope

When thinking about a concept I will often times consider images of the underlying idea. Hope, for example, brings to mind images of freedom and joy. I think of open doorways or of passages that are well lit and clear of obstruction. I think of blue skies and wind and also of fearless sailors on stormy seas. I think of a brotherhood of people who together travel difficult roads with an uncommon sense of courage. I think not of riches, luxury, and pleasure, but of sweetness, honor, and faith.

The person of hope, in my opinion, stands in sharp contrast to the person who is locked behind closed doors, the cynic – the one who is calling out not in order to plead but rather to sneer and show derision of any hope whatsoever. The cynic is the antipode of the hopeful, and images of such a figure are painful for me to consider. They are of ugly, cold, tired, and lifeless things. While the hopeful person expects the object of his desires, the cynic expects only dead-ends.

Day 4 Guide

Be careful not to get drawn into the current of cynicism that so often seems to be around. Be hopeful instead, and open the doors of thought in your Joyous Gard.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 5 Experience

Sometimes, experience is the hardest teacher. One time I hired a fellow who, on the surface, seemed smart and willing to work. Gary was likeable enough, and he needed a job. I felt sure that my company could benefit from his experience, and so I put him in a sales job right away. Little did I know that having Gary as my employee would turn my next three months into a living hell.

In retrospect, hiring him was the wrong thing to do; his sales experience really wasn’t ideally suited for our company. But even so, I thought that he could have helped us open up a new line of business, and I was excited about that.

For a while, at least, things seemed like they were going well. But then, after six or seven weeks into the job, things began to fall apart. Slowly, things were unraveling and as the weeks passed, the problems grew. Hiring Gary started to seem like a bad idea that was quickly turning into a nightmare.

Gary, you see, was stealing. And since he’d figured out clever ways to do it, it took a while for me to figure out his con. The bottom line: Gary was a thief. He was a liar and a cheat, and as I later figured out, a drug user as well. The money he’d stolen went, I’m sure, to feed his expensive drug habit. I was extremely nervous about everything that he touched, and I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to untangle the mess that he’d gotten me into.

Gary ended up stealing a substantial amount of money. But I knew that proving it in court would be difficult, and I was sure there was no way that he’d ever be able to pay it back. I just wanted to end the nightmare.


From this experience I learned to better appreciate the simple qualities of honesty and trust. After the nightmare was over, I looked around at the other people who worked for me and felt like hugging each one of them. I felt like I was home again, around the people I knew and loved. Honesty, I believe, clears the ground for love and makes it possible.

Day 5 Guide

Think today of what you have, not of what you “don’t have.” Consider the virtue of honesty, and be glad in the simple things.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Days 6-8 Faith

The essence of it is to train emotion, to believe and to practise the belief that all human beings have in them something interesting, lovable, beautiful, pathetic; and to make the recognition of that fact, the establishment of simple and kind relations with every single person with whom one is brought into contact, the one engrossing aim of life.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, Faith

I believe that we should pursue in ourselves a personality of faith that draws people to us. I will admit, however, that in the times we’re living, it wouldn’t be too hard to defend one’s own harsh and unsympathetic spirit. There’s just so much hate in the world — so much violence and disregard for life. But we should guard against returning such hate and instead, train in ourselves the ability to find beauty.

Consider what I wrote yesterday about my former employee, Gary, who, during his time working for me, stole a substantial sum of money. It’s easy to carry the burden of mind that follows from such bad acts, and even now, it’s difficult to think back on those events without reviving a darkened sprit. But our souls should be free and unencumbered, and I believe that we should use the light of Joyous Gard to seek and restore the beauty in life and in people.

Days 6-8 Guide

This weekend use the light of Joyous Gard to focus your efforts on removing the burdens that may be taxing your spirit.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 9 Progress

The kind of progress that Benson speaks of in his book Joyous Gard is not typical of the current ideas on the subject. It seems most common today to think of progress in terms of technology, invention or discovery. And when considering your own personal progress, it is most likely that you would be thinking of financial or social gain.

But the progress of Joyous Gard is of a far different character. It is personal, most certainly, but it has little to do with financial or social advancement. Nor is it akin to the ideas underlying what are called the wheels of progress. No, progress, according to Joyous Gard, is more of a resolve to seek the highest and best in one’s own life, giving up the things that add little to the pursuit of happiness but then attending to the things that are of vital interest to the development of the spirit.

The progress of Joyous Gard is the carving out of a life that focuses mostly on the things that really matter, the things of beauty, of peace and love, of the acquisition of knowledge and of life’s betterment by means of simple pleasures. The progress of Joyous Gard involves giving up some pursuits in order to more fully realize the leading of God’s hand.

I think that claiming such progress demands a certain discipline, the discipline primarily of avoiding the traps of comfort and prosperity. You must guard against holding a purpose that has as its end, relaxation and rest, while also being careful not to merely replace such a limited scope with the thoughts of staying constantly occupied and on the move. Let neither the idleness nor the occupation of your mind prevent you from enjoying the sunset.

Day 9 Guide

What occupies your mind? Where is your focus? What does progress mean to you? Are you overlooking the simple pleasures?

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 10 The Sense of Beauty

As you walk through life how often is it that a sense of beauty enters your soul? I find that my spirit is often times overly critical, finding beauty only in the narrow landscapes of pageantry. But it’s not what I want – to find beauty solely in a spectacular sunset, in love or in unusual serenity. I want to find the beauty that surrounds me as I walk through life, the beauty in mundane and usual things. I wish to find my soul sensitive and wanting to reconcile even the smallest steps of life to something more meaningful – to the purposeful design of a universe, which considers even the flight of a sparrow to be essential.

Many things move to burden or frustrate my view of such beauty — the anxiety of obligations, the news of tragedy or sadness, and the ever-present possibility of danger. But amidst the sameness and the risks of life is the answer to beauty’s return: a belief in faith, hope, and love.

Keeping me on the threshold of a revived spirit is the knowledge that God’s mission includes even my clouded perspective. And on those days that I feel restless and blue, it is only by such grace that I think I’m able to sense the beauty that so paints life’s ordinary events.

Day 10 Guide

Think today of the things that help to revive your sense of beauty, and hold tightly to the beliefs that support a universe of order and purpose.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 11 The Principle of Beauty

That is the principle of beauty, to feel that there is something transforming and ennobling in us, which we can lay hold of if we wish, and that every time we see the great spirit at work and clasp it close to our feeble will, we soar a step higher and see all things with a wide and clearer vision.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, The Principle of Beauty

Recent sightings, along with a video recording of this creature flying through the swamps of Arkansas, confirm the survival of the Ivory-billed woodpecker, a bird that has long been considered extinct. Ranging anywhere from 19 to 21 inches long with a wingspan up to 3 ft, this bird is commonly known as the “Lord, God” bird. The bird is so striking that it’s been said when people see it they would exclaim, “Lord, God. What a woodpecker!”

Here is a report from the April 29, 2005 LA Times:

The current surge of interest began on Feb. 11, 2004, when amateur ornithologist Gene M. Sparling III of Hot Springs, Ark., saw what he thought was an ivory-billed woodpecker while kayaking in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tenn., and reported it to a bird-watchers’ website.

A week later, Tim W. Gallagher, editor of the Cornell lab of ornithology’s Living Bird magazine, and Bobby R. Harrison of Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala., interviewed him and were so impressed by his account that they accompanied him on a second trip.

On Feb. 27, a large black-and-white woodpecker flew less than 70 feet in front of their canoe on the bayou. Both simultaneously cried out, “Ivory-bill!”

After they finished their notes and sketches of the bird, Gallagher said, “Bobby sat down on a log, put his face in his hands and began to sob, saying, ‘I saw an ivory-bill. I saw an ivory-bill.’

From the Depths

For some of us, it might seem sort of silly to lose your head over a bird. But think about it. Here’s a creature that for over 100 years was thought to have been extinct, and then, appearing as if from the ashes of history, is a sighting of this incredible thing flying overhead. It’s a birdwatcher’s dream, most probably, to find such a lost species. I mean it must change everything, releasing a storehouse of emotional energy trapped between the pages of the lost and forgotten.

Friends, we too have so much inside — so much that wants release, so much that would animate our days and make us dance to the music of newness and creativity. It is by the principle of beauty that we’re able to call up such energy, but it takes discipline to summon the power. Constantly, we must be calibrating our senses and thoughts in order to respond to the things that are truly meaningful.

It’s all too easy to pass over the pages in the “book of life” and lose sight of the most important things. And in today’s times especially, our constant tending to affairs has an unhealthy and numbing effect on our degree of interest and attention. For many of us, sighting such a winged creature as described above would mean very little. But there, beneath a calloused and worn exterior, is a spirit that would cry tears of joy to see something even as common as the morning sun.

Day 11 Guide

Think today about how you might elevate your senses and enjoy the various elements in nature that you so often overlook.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 12 Life

Listen to the lyrics of the song made famous by Frank Sinantra, “That’s Life:”

That’s life (that’s life), that’s what all the people say
You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top, back on top in June

I said that’s life (that’s life), and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks stompin’ on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
’cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race

That’s life (that’s life), I tell you I can’t deny it
I thought of quitting, baby, but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly

—- By D.K. Thompson and K. Gordon

It’s an inspiring message, really — the idea of hanging on to life, to think of it as having a value great enough to fight for. Sometimes I have to remind myself that life is an active process, that it’s neither a single point in time nor a segment of time saved by memory, but rather a current and active flow where the only thing constant is the wind of change. And so while life may sometimes bring disappointment and heartache, even those are lost to the wind.

As I see it, my concern isn’t so much what life does to me or where the winds of change take me but rather how I navigate the seas of change. I think it’s the belief in the greater things that gives promise to a safe passage. Like the song says:

You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May

But I know I’m gonna change that tune

When I’m back on top, back on top in June

Day 12 Guide

Think today about tomorrow. The morning is gone, even this moment is fleeting. Planning for the days ahead helps you to enjoy the current winds of change.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Days 13-16 Ideas

Where I grew up there was a banana shrub in the backyard. I remember picking buds from that shrub and opening their petals to release a wonderful banana-like fragrance. I also remember that my grandmother had a honeysuckle bush in her backyard, and just like the banana shrub, it filled the summer air with a beautiful fragrance. Another sweet smell, coconut, reminds me of summertime and the beach; I think of Pina Colodas, suntan oils, dancing and pretty girls. I love that smell.

I was somewhere between ten and twelve years old when the “Age of Aquarius” (the hippie movement) was in full swing, and I remember the surroundings during that time being full of various scents, primarily those of burning oils and incense. Yes, I was one of those kids taken in by all of the “hippie houpla.” But I never actually wanted to be a hippie; I didn’t even care about growing my hair long. I just liked the colors, the lights, the sounds, and yes, the smells. And I’ll admit it: I even had a little ceramic Buddha in my bedroom for burning incense. Oh yes, I remember well the scent of Aquarius.

A little earlier in life, when I was six or seven years old, our house caught fire. Thankfully, we were out of town at the time the fire started, but I distinctly recall the day that we came back home to inspect the damage. I remember entering the house and immediately being hit with a nose full of that strong, burning odor. And even now, the smell of burning wood will always remind me of that time. As odd as it may seem, I do, however, enjoy the smell of smoke from pipes, cigars and cigarettes. Tobacco has a masculine odor to me, and in a smoke-filled room, thoughts of my grandfather and some of his good friends come to mind.

Days 13-16 Guide

This weekend, open your senses in order to arouse the feelings associated with the various times in your life. What fragrances remind you of your childhood? Are there certain aromas that remind you of people or places? The key here is to ignite the flames of memory and open up new creative channels in your mind.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 17 Poetry

Betty has been the crossing-guard at a local school for over 40 years. Every morning and afternoon during the school year she’s in front of the school dressed neatly in a uniform and wearing her signature white hat. And if you ever stop to watch her or talk to her, you’ll find her to be just as spry and alert as ever. In that sort of job you need to be. I mean it must take a good amount of confidence and command to step out into traffic with only a hand-held stop sign and a whistle to control the situation.

I’m sure that over the years Betty has seen times when things didn’t go as planned, but as far as I know, there has never been an accident or injury under her watch. I wonder just how many children Betty has assured safe crossing over the years?

It’s comforting to look out in the world and find that some things just don’t seem to change that much. The sun, the moon and the stars give us the constant heartbeat in the universe, and the landscape’s features such her hills and mountains, rivers and valleys are part of the natural beauty that we all enjoy throughout our lives. It’s the shorter-lived things, like plants and trees and animals that remind us of change and endings, just as does the passing of generations of people.

For me there’s a “sweet” sadness in such change. I want the good things to last forever, don’t you? It’d suit me just fine if Betty could continue to help those children cross the street every school day. But I know that won’t happen. She’s getting old, and there will come the day when she’s no longer able to hold that job. The sweetness is in looking back over her many years on the job and realizing how she touched so many lives, even mine. You see, Betty was the crossing guard when I was in elementary school. And I remember it well: holding that sign high and assuring that all was safe, she would lead us into the crosswalk and wish us a good day.

Day 17 Guide

Today, think about change, and take time to think about the many people who have touched your life. Think of their influence, their love – their example. Possibly even take a little time to write to someone you admire or trust.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 18 Poetry and Life


2. That quality or combination of qualities which affords keen pleasure to other senses (e.g. that of hearing), or which charms the intellectual or moral faculties, through inherent grace.

—- Oxford English Dictionary

How does beauty enter your soul? Do you allow her to touch your spirit and satisfy your days? The apprehension of beauty should, I feel, play a significant role in your enjoyment of life. And I think it’s important to talk about beauty with others, even baring as it may seem, some sort of weakness or confession of the soul.

Too many of us pass our days with no talk of beautiful things, the wonderful moments or heightened experiences. Maybe we feel that within the regimen of work there’s simply no time for the enjoyment of a recollection, a song, a story, or the view of landscape. But there is nothing that connects people more closely than converse of the soul, especially talk of the beautiful and wonderful things that arouse the rich feelings of being alive.

Day 18 Guide

Speak today of something beautiful. Tell someone of an experience or a thought that aroused in you those rich feelings of greatness or wonder.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 19 Art

Yesterday I talked about how we are many times apt to overlook much of the beauty in the world, seeing only the obvious elements in the foreground of life. But I believe that our senses are to lead the soul to the knowledge of something greater — to the power and energy that lies beneath the surface of the apparent. Art is the attempt to draw us to the well of strength, and the artist himself moves us by isolating frames of life and showing favor only in the necessary combination of elements that would lead to such awareness. I think art, therefore, is as much about discrimination and leaving things off of the canvas as it is about adding things to it.

I believe that the soul wants to be charmed and that the mind tends toward that same artistic selectivity that would erase some things from our view and make more easily recognizable those forces that animate and unify. Read again at the definition of beauty taken from the Oxford English Dictionary:


2. That quality or combination of qualities which affords keen pleasure to other senses (e.g. that of hearing), or which charms the intellectual or moral faculties, through inherent grace.

The word “that” in the definition indicates a selection of “the few” from “the many.” It is not everything that “affords the keen pleasure,” but only “that quality or combination of qualities which charms the intellectual or moral faculties.”

Day 19 Guide

Today, think like an artist and look at the world through the eyes of one who is selective, drawing in only the qualities or combination of qualities that would afford the soul keen pleasure. The key here is to discriminate and leave some things out, allowing into your awareness only the elements that are necessary to point to the greater forces.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Days 20-22 Art and Morality

And thus the true poet, whether he writes verses or novels, is the greatest of teachers, not because he trains and drills the mind, but because he makes the thing he speaks of appear so beautiful and desirable that we are willing to undergo the training and drilling that are necessary to be made free of the secret. He brings out, as Plato beautifully said, “the beauty which meets the spirit like a breeze, and imperceptibly draws the soul, even in childhood, into harmony with the beauty of reason.” The work of the poet then is “to elicit the simplest principles of life, to clear away complexity, by giving a glowing and flashing motive to live nobly and generously, to renew the unspoiled growth of the world, to reveal the secret hope silently hidden in the heart of man.”

Benson, Joyous Gard, Art and Morality

In Greek mythology the Elysian Fields was as beautiful meadow in the underworld where the blameless would go in the afterlife. There, one would enjoy a perfect and eternal happiness. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Much like heaven.

I think that it is the artist’s attempt to extract, from this world, glimpses of the Elysian Fields. But let’s face it, we are busy people, and we have little time to contemplate the things of beauty. Our attention seems most often scattered and on the “things” of life.” That’s why I believe it’s all the more important to develop the habit of restoring these glimpses of beauty in the mind. And it is my mission in the Joyous Gard ProgramTM to help you with that. By repeatedly calling you back to the things of beauty, my hope is that you will find your spirit to be like a gentle breeze.

Days 20-22 Guide

This weekend consider how you might help to support and more fully develop the habit of restoring thoughts of beauty. As I mentioned yesterday, try thinking like an artist by eliminating from your mental canvas all but the essential combination of things that would charm your spirit. Concentrate on finding beauty in simplicity.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 23 Interpretation

This book of mine lays no claim to be a pageant of all life’s joys; it leaves many things untouched and untold; but it is a plea for this; that those who have to endure the common lot of life, who cannot go where they would, whose leisure is but a fraction of the day, before the morning’s toil and after the task is done, whose temptation it is to put everything else away except food and sleep and work and anxiety, not liking life so but finding it so;-it is a plea that such as these should learn how experience, even under cramped conditions, may be finely and beautifully interpreted, and made rich by renewed intention. Because the secret lies hid in this, that we must observe life intently, grapple with it eagerly; and if we have a hundred lives before us, we can never conquer life till we have learned to ride above it, not welter helplessly below it. And the cramped and restricted life is all the grander for this, that it gives us a nobler chance of conquest than the free, liberal, wealthy, unrestrained life.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, Interpretation

This morning I wish to speak to the same audience that Benson addresses in the above passage – to “those who have to endure the common lot of life, who cannot go where they would, whose leisure is but a fraction of the day…”

Friend, do you ever feel as though life beats you up? Oh, I know that everyone has his or her own struggles, but do you sometimes feel isolated and alone in your problems? I think on some level we can all relate to that.

When I’m feeling low, I try to rest on the assurance that my efforts to “ride above life” aren’t in vain and that somehow I am growing by constantly seeking to enjoy her beauty. I tell myself that my spirit is safe as long as I am able to sense the presence of God’s hand in my life.

It’s liberating to feel as though I’m not “going it alone” — that God is ultimately overseeing my affairs and the direction in my life. I find also that hardship tends to strengthen relationships with trusted and close friends. And isn’t that how it should be? That you feel a kinship and a bond of mutual trust with those closest to you?

As I see it, the road of life is full of potholes, dead ends and unfamiliar crossings. And yet I know that in control of my passage is a power much greater than that of my own intellect; it is the power of God himself. His design for my life is beautiful, and I know that I must work daily to maintain the searching spirit that enjoys such design. My friend, don’t let the burden of a heavy heart cloud your view to the greater things, but make for yourself a place in your mind, a Joyous Gard, to realize your purpose and the beauty that surrounds it.

Day 23 Guide

It’s Monday; consider today a fresh start, and try to wipe away the things that burden your spirit and make you anxious.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 24 Education

School seems more rigorous today than it was when I was growing up. Indeed the workload for the students is much heavier. And it would seem like the additional load would call for a longer summer. But I think it’s more common to see just the opposite. For us, summer break now is four weeks shorter than it was when I was growing up. I hate that for my children. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not an opponent of schooling for children. I just think they ought to have more time to enjoy being children.

One thing that really hasn’t changed about school is the subject matter itself. Math, history, science and English/literature are still the required courses, and my children are pretty much learning all of the same stuff that I learned, only faster and in more depth. In high school, the students are reading books that I’m sure I didn’t read until I was in college. And most of their textbooks are college-level as well.

My complaint is that school is terribly stressful for young people today. And the pressure to get in a good college also makes parents anxious to see their children qualify. This fact compounds the stress, and while I’m speaking just from my own experience, I think we all need a break. Aren’t you glad summer is here?

It just seems all too much. Sure, we want our children to do well in life. But are we pushing for higher SAT scores at the expense of teaching our children about beauty, peace and love? It’s something to think about. Children aren’t too young to learn about Joyous Gard. In most ways I think they are already well qualified to recognize the paths that lead to restoration, hope and happiness and the rich treasures of a purposeful life.

Take my oldest child, for example. She loves music of all kinds, old and new. It comforts me to know that she is so familiar with at least one of the paths that lead her to those heightened feelings of the spirit. It’s my hope that she will carry that with her for the rest of her life. I want to do what I can to make sure of it.

We all desperately need our sources of spiritual vitality, whether they come in the form of prayer and worship or singing and dancing. We need to enjoy each other. We need to love and sympathize, and together, create and discover. I believe that the behavioral hallmarks of sanity are to laugh, love and learn. Take a moment to think about these things, and make this one of your greatest summers ever.

Day 24 Guide

Laugh, love and learn. Think about how you might integrate these things into your life plan.

© 2005, Levi Hill

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May 2005 ~ Day 25 Knowledge

Civilisation does not consist in commercial prosperity, or even in a fine service of express trains. It resides in quick apprehension, lively interest, eager sympathy . . . at least I suspect so.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, Knowledge


I believe that the wellspring of human endeavor is interest. Without the desire to know, man is left intellectually bankrupt and spiritless.

I realize that these are pretty strong words, but I hold them to be true. Even writing them, I feel convicted and warned by the thought of a lethargic and uncaring mind. In my opinion, the above quote from the book Joyous Gard means that certain life-giving features of individual minds acting collectively underlie all of the advancement of civilization – features such as quick apprehension, lively interest, and eager sympathy, for example.

When at times I have little interest in things, or when tomorrow seems only a burden, I realize that my paths to Joyous Gard need attention. I know that my primary aim and intention must be to restore earlier visions of beauty.

I’ll be the first to admit, however, that it is hard to begin the process of restoration when my spirit is troubled or low. In such a state of mind, I find that I must rely on the inner belief that feelings of purpose and self-importance are best restored indirectly, by means of repeatedly proving success and essentially “getting my hands dirty.”

I begin by putting myself on a daily regimen to work through a series of tasks. Tackling them one by one seems to edify my spirit and convince me that once again I am able to succeed. As my confidence improves, I’ll begin to take on small projects, helping myself to further see that I’m able to accomplish something that requires a diversity of efforts.

Day 25 Guide

How do you restore your vision of beauty? What helps you to clear the paths to Joyous Gard? Take some time today, maybe at the end of the day, to jot down the things that help to restore your personal confidence and sense of purpose. These will be the defining sketches of your roadmap to beauty.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 26 Growth

Above all, we ought to believe that we can do something to change ourselves, if we only try; that we can anchor our conscience to a responsibility or a personality, can perceive that the society of certain people, the reading of certain books, does affect us, make our mind grow and germinate, give us a sense of something fine and significant in life.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, Growth

The inner place of Joyous Gard is “a work in progress.” I think we should never feel that the entire range of life is within our scope but that there is always more to grasp, a different angle or perspective — another layer of meaning or understanding, another mystery. Consider my earlier piece about fractals. On Day 3, March, 2005 I wrote:

A modern day high-tech example of such a principle of endless discovery and renewal is the computerized fractal, which by definition is “a mathematically conceived curve such that any small part of it, enlarged, has the same statistical character as the original” (Oxford English Dictionary.) Applying the mathematical principles of the fractal and graphically demonstrating its meaning on a computer reveals an endlessly enticing and infinitely renewable world of beauty.

In my opinion, one of the most beautiful features of living is the endless possibility for perfecting and improving our time here. Only the mind of God is ever satisfied that all is within its grasp, and yet we humans do find pleasure in more fully coming to know the nature and meaning of life and the soul. In our quest for greater understanding, we expose new layers of truth, and this I call growth.

Day 26 Guide

Consider today how your efforts, your plans and your aims in life will forever change the universe. Though it might be hard to believe, because of you the universe will be changed today in some way. Never underestimate the significance of almost everything.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Days 27-30 Emotion

But the spirit which one desires to see spring up is the Athenian spirit, which finds its satisfaction in ideas and thoughts and beautiful emotions, in mental exploration and artistic expression; and is so absorbed, so intent upon these things that it can afford to let prosperity flow past like a muddy stream.

— Benson, Joyous Gard, Emotion

Sometimes I manage to fall down in a hole without knowing it until I’m somehow reminded of the special light of Joyous Gard. Last night, for example, my wife and I visited one of my favorite places, the bookstore. Just being surrounded by all those books normally excites me; I love the thought of being in the midst of so many ideas. But last night was different. I felt lost and disinterested. And as I looked around, no title or section seemed to inspire me. I looked in the literature section and then through the poetry books; I tried to read several poems but found that the background music in the store was unnerving and that it upset the rhythm of the verse. So I kept looking; I think I walked down every aisle in every section, picking up various titles along the way to thumb through. I was trying very hard to get my mind back on a path of interest.

It really wasn’t until the store was about to close that I found a selection that caught my eye; it was a book called The Lives of the Great Composers. I picked it up, sat down in one of those big chairs and started flipping through the pages. Immediately, I came across a chapter on Mozart. Here’s what the author of the book, Harold Shonberg, says about Morzart’s most powerful opera, Don Giovanni:

The overture sets the mood. With a few diminished-seventh chords and a D-minor scale, Mozart creates a feeling of anxiety, intensity, anguish, oncoming horror. Near the end of the opera the scale reappears, and one’s hair stands on end.

Those are powerful words, aren’t they? They speak of a sensitive spirit that easily calls forth the winds of emotion. And for me, it’s good to be reminded of the importance of such a spirit.

Days 27-30 Guide

This Memorial Day weekend surround yourself with things that light the fire of emotion. Spend time with your family and friends, laugh, and listen to music. Look for the beautiful things that help to soften your spirit.

© 2005, Levi Hill

Joyous Gard: Daily Guide Archives and Text
May 2005 ~ Day 31 Memory

…Could it be that it was all so simple then?

Or has time rewritten every line?

— Words from The Way We Were, Made popular by Barbara Streisand

Memories play an important role in both your interpretation of the present and your anticipation of the future. Think of Joyous Gard as the home where your memories, like tapestries, adorn the walls, adding color and warmth to your visit. Think of Joyous Gard as the place in your being where life can be enjoyed, where earlier times might be often replayed in the light of a memory that soothes the wounded or broken spirit.

Day 31 Guide

Today, write about an earlier time or event in your life that made you feel good. Surround yourself with the music and the pictures of that time. The key here is to restore and preserve those great feelings.

© 2005, Levi Hill

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