In a year of challenges, isolation and great sadness...I have also found joy. Yesterday evening, I joined The Stay at Home Choir, performers and artists across the globe to celebrate that joy, in Live with Carnegie Hall: Global Ode to Joy.
A concert that was born from conductor Marin Alsop's idea to turn Beethoven's 250th birthday celebration into a global movement for joy amid a pandemic, it was truly an unforgettable experience that spoke, to me, of our uniquely human emotions, our ability to persevere, and our capacity for joy.
What is joy to me? Joy is nature, joy is poetry, joy is song. Joy is connecting with others.
What I never would've predicted, though, is how a pandemic and months of quarantine and social-distancing could also lead to joy. To real, meaningful connections and artistic creativity, beautiful memories, new friendships and an inspiring movement that I'm so grateful to have been a part of.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith's poetic words express how joy is more complex than happiness, how it can come from a place of pain and sorrow, a place deep within us that breaks open into joyful expression through strength, perseverance, and community.
Joy, bright God-spark born of Ever
Daughter of fresh paradise—
Where you walked once now walk rancor,
Greed, suspicion, anger, fright.
Joy, the breeze off all that’s holy,
Pure with terror, wild as flame.
Make us brothers, give us comfort,
Bid us past such fear and hate.
*Excerpt from Tracy K. Smith's English adaption, Ode to Joy
From the first moment I heard Tracy speak the phrase 'Joy bright God spark born of Ever' - to the moments I was singing the text on Beethoven's glorious high Gs and As above the staff - I felt its power. I was empowered. I wanted not only to find joy but to understand and share it with the world. I needed to know that in a year when so many of us have suffered so greatly, we've also found pathways to healing, to overcoming, to seeking the joy that remains.
And that's when I began to think of joy as Tracy described, as an active feeling with roots. Deep, tough roots that settle and breathe within us. Roots that can grow and burst forth, given the chance. Joy blooms within us, but we need to do the work to find and nurture it.
How do we do this, though? It's a question that I've asked many times in these months of fear, doubt and uncertainty. There are days it has been hard to find even a hint of joy, days it seems buried underneath worries for my family and friends' health and safety, for job security amid cultural, political and economic upheaval in our world.
But despite the days when fear roars loud, joy remains. Stronger than the fiercest lion, joy blooms.
It blooms in the gray places where we least expect, breaking through our grief to bring overwhelming relief, exquisite beauty and childlike wonder. It is present in everything around us and within us, in what we create and who we are. It's in the small things, the everyday things, in the people and memories and moments we treasure.
Joy is a human experience formed from that which brings us magnificent delight, a kind of exhilaration that radiates into and through our souls. To see someone experience joy is light magnified; to share joy with someone is to illuminate our own bliss. Joy binds us together with roots entwined.
Let us feel it, let us heed it,
Let us seek its deepest kiss.
Let us live our brief lives mining
That which joy alone can give.
*Excerpt from Tracy K. Smith's English adaption, Ode to Joy https://www.carnegiehall.org/Education/Young-Musicians/All-Together-A-Global-Ode-to-Joy/Texts-and-Translations/English-New-York-City
I hope you find and share joy this December, that you seek out its power and let it bloom. I will continue to sing, to write, to nurture and love my family and to connect with my friends across the globe. Thank you for visiting my blog, and coming along for my creative journeys. Be safe & well. -💗Stacie
*Live with Carnegie Hall: Global Ode to Joy is now available to watch in replay on YouTube at the link above. Learn more about this global movement to spread joy and how you can share your joy @ https://www.globalodetojoy.com/