“We must risk delight. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”
– Jack Gilbert, quoted in Elizabeth Gilbert’s (unrelated) BIG MAGIC
Delight. It’s long been my signature word. Utter illumination. Feeling lit from within by my own joy, my own capacity to deeply receive and savor the experiences of my life… both light and dark.
Damn, have I leaned hard on my capacity to risk delight this week. A series of decisions by school district leadership that I perceive to be injust and even retaliatory (against innovation, outspokenness, and courage) have led to my son’s school losing its beloved principal, utterly out of the blue. This extraordinary human being was suddenly missing from the day-to-day lives of 450 students, 45 staff members, and all the parents and grandparents and caregivers who look to him as a leader and inspiration.
The news slammed down on me like the death of a loved one. And then Kurt and I had to walk our son… and even our 3 year old daughter… through their own loss. He’s already her principal, so visible and engaged is this man with the children on his campus.
A flood of emotions has rushed through me, and sometimes over my head.
And through it all, I am glad to have had that storehouse of delight. The world is, for sure, a ruthless furnace, threatening always to burn our gladness away so thoroughly that, like the chalky ashes I spread in the forest in Colorado in 1992, the remnants bear no resemblance to the vibrant life that one was.
Stubbornness is the other word I love from these lines. You may have heard me speak before of what I
call DIVINE STUBBORNNESS: it’s when we say to our partner, “I’m not going anywhere; I’m not threatening the commitment we share… but THINGS NEED TO CHANGE.” It’s swearing, with the glint of a vision in your eye, to neither stray… nor settle.
And that’s the stubbornness I delight in within me. This week, friends and I are fighting to get our principal back, even as we support our teachers through what may be a permanent transition and show our interim principal that we’re utterly supportive of and thankful for her amazing work, too.
We’re not going anywhere. And things are going to change.
For we risk delight. We’re fanning the flames of our gladness, even as the roar of the furnace pushes tears from our eyes and parches our cheeks with its fierce heat.
This is life. She’s a wild ride, no? And what a turn-on!?
Tell me, beloved: In the face of what furnace are you stubbornly accepting your gladness this week? How is your divine stubbornness manifesting in your love life?