“Joy…is not a synonym for happiness, but instead refers to zest for life. You can have an underlying zest for life whether you are happy or whether you are sad…”
Teilhard de Chardin wrote these words, and I see them embodied in my woman-friends. These women have suffered and sought healing in every cell. They work so hard for peace and oneness – of self and world. They end every phone call with gratitude and love. They delight in silver birch bark, in the elegant twist of a scarf.
When I think of zest, I think of Audrey, a friend who lives in Chicago. As a social worker, she knows the Valley of the Shadow, and has walked through it with many souls, including those closest to her. Yet I have rarely met someone so open to joy, wonder, and the revolutionary power of seeing the best in each other.
“The zest for life, which is the source of all passion and all insight, even divine, does not come to us from ourselves. It is God…”
Audrey’s zest for life gushes out of her – in laughter, in outraged pleas for every suffering being, and in tender empathy when a friend is hurt or confused.
She also sees Nature with special intimacy. Spend some time with her artistry, and let it wash away the dust of the day, the petty hurts and self-doubts.
“A joyful person has found the zest for life that our consumer culture promises but never delivers.”
Take a walk with us, through the botanic gardens and flowering byways of the earth.
Break off some wild mint, rub it between your fingers, and let the zest for your own sweet life fill you.
Photos (c) Audrey Cunningham 2018