All This Joy

I have a weekly Zoom call with a man who, though we’ve never met in person, is one of two dear friends from Colorado, USA. In between calls, he and I often text each other to check in, and sometimes send audio texts. A variety of ways to keep connected when travelling to meet up in person just doesn’t seem right yet.

Today he sent me a song played at a workshop he recently attended, thinking it might resonate with me. It sure did. “All This Joy,” written and sung by American singer-songwriter, activist, and humanitarian John Denver (1943-1997), is a beautiful piece with a spiritual/faith aspect to it. (For more of Denver, please visit my post on his song “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”)

“All This Joy” is a powerful message about connection to community, the world, spirit, and each other. It’s simple and lovely.

“All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
City of joy, city of sorrow, city of promise, city of pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
World of joy, world of sorrow, world of promise, world of pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love.
All this joy, all this sorrow, all this promise, all this pain.
Such is life, such is being, such is spirit, such is love. Such is spirit, such is love.”

(“All This Joy,” by John Denver.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com, with a couple of corrections.)

The last few days have been emotionally draining. Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of the killing of the daughter of dear friends. She died in a school shooting that shocked the world as 20, six- and seven-year-old children were murdered along with six educators. This year, the days leading up didn’t seem terribly hard, though as a mutual friend affected by the tragedy said yesterday, it can be unexpected but the day comes at you like a runaway train.

And today, I was at a hospital for an ultrasound test. The imaging unit is on the same floor as the intensive care unit, a place I spent several nights more than four years ago when a beloved was ill and died. So as I walked by the ICU and the waiting room, I recalled the many hours and silent nights of hoping while I watched the medical professionals faithfully doing their incredible work, always with a moment to stop and share a smile or answer a question.

So, today was a serendipitous day for me to hear this song. And it felt like an appropriate one to share with you, in this season where sorrow can be amplified by societal pressure to go out, shop and be happy. In the Christmas holiday season, those mourning often feel sidelined and isolated in their grief, when what they really need is to be seen, heard and included with whatever mood and feeling they bring to a gathering. Several memes on the Internet tell us to be kind to strangers, as we never know what they’re going through. I sure felt people acting on that advice today, and hope I did the same.

“All This Joy” comes from Denver’s 1988 album, Higher Ground, recorded in his Snowmass, Colorado studio. In 1974, the “Centennial State” governor honoured the entertainer and human as its poet laureate.

(And, as I was finishing writing this post, I had the gift of a long and wonderful phone call from the other of those two dear friends from Colorado. I’ve known and treasured him for many years and have learned much from him. As he would say with ancient wisdom about all these things, “blessed be.”)

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from John Denver’s official YouTube channel:

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