By Lois Jamieson
I once heard a wonderful sermon, given by the Rev. Phil Carlson, at my church St. Barnabas in the Desert. Father Phil has given me permission to share some of his thoughts with you. You don’t have to be an Episcopalian or even a Christian to appreciate his wisdom.
He spoke of the author Harry Golden, who grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City in the early part of the last century. In one of Mr. Golden’s essays he spoke of his mother’s faith in God. His father was an intellectual who spent a lot of his time discussing God. Golden wrote: “My mother, of course, thought all those discussions were nonsense. She cooked and sewed and cleaned for the family and the neighbors. Even if a dish turned well she would not take credit. The credit went to God. My mother talked with God all the time, actual conversations.”
Out of this faith came one of the few English words she knew – ENJOY!
Golden wrote, “When my mother served our meals and placed before us a dish that may have turned out particularly well, she would always say Enjoy! Enjoy! The word covered hundreds of other situations. When the school had an outing and we all went off with our teachers, the last thing we heard going out the door was Enjoy! Enjoy!”
Father Phil went on to say, “For nearly fifty years Harry Golden’s mother’s faith and admonition have given illustration to a basic tenet of my Biblical faith – Enjoy!
God wants us to enjoy this life – and the next. The joy promised is not the mad dash for happiness we see in the proliferation of books on the subject, nor the ever expanding market for better living through chemistry, nor the preachers promising financial success.
Of course the promised joy is happiness, but it is also sadness. It is deeper than both.
It is a mystery that keeps opening to us as we walk life’s way. And it is a gift.”
He continued, “In my life I have experienced the normal highs and lows, successes and failures, but I have never experienced anything catastrophic. If I do, it is my prayer that I will have the faith to experience the joy of those terminally sick persons who decide to spend their days living rather than dying. Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting Wow what a ride!”
Out of her life of faith Harry Golden’s mother said it all, “Enjoy! Enjoy!”