On these stormy days, "delight" might not be the first word that comes to mind. With the condition of the world, sometimes our joy is constricted. But it is important to remind ourselves we can cultivate delight even when grey clouds are thick and cold stubbornly persists.
Here are twelve ways to enrich "delight," give it many faces, and come to know it a bit better.
1) Norwegians have a term for over-the-top joy: "Not too bad." How are you feeling? Not too bad. Translated, it may mean I feel great, or life is crazy good right now. We all have a language to express what delight is to us. For some, it's a bass drum; for others, it is more like Zamfir on his pan flute.
2) The word "delight" has a fascinating origin. In the Old French delit, from deleitier means 'to please.' Ice cream cones might do that for us; a grandchild whispering, 'I love you' as we leave their room might qualify. The moon filling up the night certainly qualifies if we come under its spell.
3) Delight is also from the Latin dēlectāre, from dēlicere meaning 'to allure.' What a wonderful word! "Allure," being drawn toward, seduced. Delight seduces us. It's the person we can't take our eyes off of in the middle of a crowded dance floor once we spot them.
4) "Allure" (delights second-cousin) has another meaning; from Old French enticier, to instigate. Delight comes looking for us. Have you ever thought of that? We might be blind to it, but that doesn't mean opportunities for playful joy are not active. Every day, they seek us out.
5) A big favorite of mine from the Vulgar Latin. Delight's allure, intītiāre, which means to set afire. Fireworks on the fourth of July when we make room for it when the cares of living do not entirely overtake us.
6) The word 'delicious' is also associated with delight. When is the last time life (even moments) tasted delicious, as mouthwatering as watermelon on a hot, summer day?
7) Finally, to round out the description, the English version is influenced by light (de-light). Oh, to bring more light to ordinary days! This is what delight is supposed to do. Sadly, few of us recognize we are living in the shadows. We rarely break out into the sunlight of surprise and joy.
8) The reality is that delight is hard to sustain. Some can; they have the temperament for it. Others make it a choice. Each day they wake ready to receive what the world offers. They don't allow it to walk past them without a concentrated look.
9) I believe each of us can draw from the well of delight more often and more deliberately to a degree. We can more consciously make this part of our overall attitude. We can choose to look away from the negative and depressing that can be a preoccupation. We can carve out or suspend time when it happens, when life presents us with something we can delight in.
10) The truth is none of us are equal to the task. We often live our lives in a minor key. The colors we see; are they not different than animals that only see in black-and-white? Yet, do we celebrate these marvels, bits of gold and pink, the color of sunsets, the depth and variety of blue in the rolling sea? And what of the eye itself? Where does it end once we open ourselves to miracle and gift?
11) Delight is something we can escape from, and perhaps most of us have done a bit of that. Maybe we have forgotten what it is? Maybe we are at a time in life when it doesn't seem possible. It could be we have given up on delight or have found somewhat poor substitutes. But that doesn't mean the memory of it doesn't linger.
12) We can do better. We can allow the word 'delight' to creep into our casual conversations. We can name it more often. We can stop the pursuit of life to settle into moments when delight is bright, when it comes knocking.
We can look back with gratitude on moments in our day that for even seconds were delicious; the chirping of birds in the morning, the emergence of wildflowers on our walks, the return of loons and mergansers to the open water.
We can make time for opportunities that come looking for us, instigate, and, yes, might even set us afire. And, as we head towards the solstice, we can look forward to more of the coming of the light in our routine, sometimes stormy, days.