Finding out where joy resides

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“When work is a pleasure, life is joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery.”

— Maxim Gorky

“I know a fellow shouldn’t work on Sunday, but being in the fields has never felt like work — it seems to me it’s just about the most fun a guy can have!”

I heard this statement from my dad more than a time or two, and there was no doubt he felt joyous being on a tractor, working in his fields, no matter the season or the reason.

Choice

Each of us has the choice of finding joy in the moment or drudgery in a job needing done. It goes without saying that when we encounter a stranger who is on the job, one can pretty quickly figure out how that person looks at their work.

Anne Lamott, a writer who has achieved success with her sometimes quirky views on life and faith, has said, “Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy.”

It is so true that we cannot begin to understand what brings all of the details of our life together, each path eventually making sense. It is in our daily choice of how to approach and accept every bit of it with a happy heart that makes all the difference.

The parlor

I spent lots of hours in the milking parlor over my childhood, working with my sisters, and later with good people my father had hired.

Two fellows, I went to school with became like brothers, and we could laugh and argue and stand our ground over the dumbest things just like siblings are known to do.

But there was never any doubt both of those boys enjoyed being on that farm, appreciating their job, always dependable no matter the hour or the demand. It was on that farm I learned a lot of things about choosing how to respond to unforeseen circumstance.

A skittish first-calf heifer freshens on the one night you need to be out of there in good time. Find a way to be patient and calm, or it will only take longer to get everything accomplished with the inexperienced heifer and her calf.

Nature’s gifts

The greatest gift was in learning by example. Dad was the kind of man who proved daily that there is a way to find joy in a job needing done. He pointed out gifts from Mother Nature on a consistent basis.

He discovered a nest of baby bunnies, or described a uniquely-marked red fox he spotted while working the wilderness field. He was amazed at the parenting skills of the Canada geese.

Plant a seed and watch it sprout. It all was amazing if you thought about it, he often said, with wonder in his voice and his expression.

“And we would have missed all this if we had still been in bed sleeping like normal people!” he said on the day we spotted a tiny fawn with its mama at sunrise.

“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all,” said Robert Louis Stevenson.

Springtime gives us a whole lot of things to witness with wonder if only we are open to it.

“Joy seems to be a step beyond happiness — happiness is a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.”

— Adela Rogers St. Johns

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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