We have known Joy haven’t we? Didn’t it meet us in ripples when our feet met the river’s edge? Didn’t Joy find its way between the soil that grew our food and fed our plants and animals? Didn’t Joy find ways through the crowd? I swear I saw it lift the people off their feet and bring them splashing down again. Didn’t you hear Joy spilling out of the hollow of the drum? It was calling me with a sound that saturated the air.
Don’t you remember Joy spilling through your clothes when your body spoke to you in rhythms that your ancestors knitted in tight patterns within you? I know I did. Joy was there all along. Surely she has. How I came to lose her – I’m not quite sure. I try to retrace those steps home but the weeds – they grow too thick and tall. The landscape has changed. The weeds eventually turn to slabs so sound, water, and light cannot penetrate. In this landscape the drum cannot spill Joy through the air. It is restricted to walls that have grown to house us and leave us homeless all at once. Every now and then I hear Joy squeezed like paste through halls that remind me that I am not home.
How I have come to lose Joy I do not know. Even the water cannot speak in ripples around my feet any longer. The ripples are now muffled and the circles they made around my feet are too heavy to move freely. The wastes from toxic labour, the toxic spill of greed trap the water and I can no longer feel the joyful vibrations.
But I keep trying to find my way home. At times I hear Joy at a distance. Her song is sweet and long. Pulling my feet, swaying my hips, bringing my head to look to the sky. In that moment I allow my mouth to open with ease and let Joy lead me home. I feel the passage of time and the passage of spirit. I can feel Joy returning with each raised foot and note. I no longer wait for that time of the year. I call ceremony into my body on a whim and I feel Joy move. No longer am I waiting to have my life just so – just so I could lavish in laughter, movement, sensuality, pleasure and taste. Oh yes Joy has a taste. It is bright. Bold and multilayered. Oh did you believe the lie they told you that food is medicine only for the body? Oh no! It is the medicine for the soul and for communion. Watch how Joy bounces on my tongue with prickly heat. It glides in thick layers over the roof of my mouth with sweetness. It raises the side of my tongue as stringent pulses race back and forth. Oh joy you have been here all along. How did I lose you? How did I lose my way home?
On my way home I notice joy spilling again. I find it in the gentle touch of my elders on my hands. I find it the crevice of their smiles and the lit corners of their eyes. Oh joy you have been here all along. Watching me. Holding me in your sweet, wrinkled, soft embrace.
As Black History Month comes to a close let us let Joy spill. Let Joy slip through the hollow of the drum, lift you to your feet and into the air. Let Joy in over and over again. Create daily rituals and ceremony that invites Joy into your home, your work, and your community. Let Joy bring you home.