Joy does not come easily. The day begins with the caller I.D. warning against picking up the ringing phone. The breakfast bowl sees measured portions – rations – of store brand cereal and milk. Miss the bus. Spend the day with unhappy customers. Ensure bus fare for the rest of the week by walking home. Lentils and rice for supper. Count pennies. Rations for the cat. Listen to phone messages from no one who will receive a return call. Joy does not come easily. Morning Edition reports the number dead from that day’s car bombing. A couple in the bus seat ahead blame “organized religion.” Statistics intrude throughout the day: the percentage of prisoners; the ratio of executive income to entry level wages; one in three women. Hear someone in a four hundred pair of shoes complain about a panhandler. Evening news reveals the powerful steadfastly staying true to their convictions, though the heavens cry. Joy does not come easily. Except that the alarm cat goes off with gentle snuggles under the covers. Except an email arrives with good news or warm wishes. Except that a crack in the sidewalk is blooming with the tiniest, most delicate petals ever to crack concrete. Except some silly wrens are clowning in the hedge. Except someone holds the door open. Except someone says a kind word. Except the crepe myrtle bark curls into fragile, miniature cathedrals. Except the sunset creates a new color. Except a fresh peach is sweet and flavorful. Except there’s a rainbow on a pigeon’s breast. Except a stranger’s smile to her friend illuminates the bus. Except a water fountain splashes brightly. Except a book tells of human resiliency. Except cans of food are collected for the poor. Except a sick one gets well. Except mourning receives comforting. Except there are peacemakers. Joy does not come easily except it comes so relentlessly. How hard we make it work.
Neil Ellis Orts is a native Texan, a farm boy from the south central part of the state. His interests have taken him to study theater and performance as well as theology as well as dabble in endeavors that don’t fit neatly under those headers. He is writer, actor, peformance artist, director, publisher, collaborator, and a generally curious individual.