I spent yesterday afternoon at a religious retreat for catechists. It was the sort of thing that I signed up for thinking “This sounds like a great presentation. I think taking this afternoon to reflect on a few things will be inspiring as I start a new year of teaching religious education.” It was also the sort of thing that had me dragging my feet on the actual day thinking “Why did I sign myself up for something that requires me to sit in a room full of strangers for four hours. I could be at home reading a good book instead of having small group discussions.”
It’s hard being an introvert sometimes.
As my earlier self suspected, it was a great presentation. At the very beginning I gasped a bit when the presenter told us we were there to focus on one word: joy. It’s a word that is popping up a lot for me lately. Just last week in my marathon training update I told you that I want to run this race joyfully. I haven’t picked a race mantra yet but I know it’s going to include the word joy. I find my prayers lately focusing on the joy in the world around me (maybe my Friday posts should be Joy in Small Things…).
The goal of the retreat was to teach us how to lead our classes with joy. At the end of the day, the presenter revealed that he took a scripture verse as the framework for the retreat:
…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
(Galatians 5: 22-23)
That was my second a-ha moment (to freely rip off Oprah). These concepts go far beyond the classroom. If I can find ways to develop these gifts, I will have a more fruitful life. I will live a life centered on joy. I’ve got some more thinking to do on this and with a month full of long runs ahead of me, I’ll have plenty of time for reflection. But I wanted to write this down before I lost the sense of surprise I had yesterday: I showed up out of a sense of obligation. A feeling of “how bad can it be.” A stubbornness of making myself do things that should be good for me. And I walked away smiling because it gave me the gift of joy.