“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
–Marianne Williamson

When was the last time that you felt joy? That you laughed out loud?  Hummed a happy song?

Even if you are generally happy person, there are times that you don’t feel joyful.  Maybe you are in pain from a chronic illness or you’ve lost a loved one.  Perhaps your job is in jeopardy or you are waiting to hear back from the bank.

These are all stressful times when it is hard to feel anything but sorrow and worry.

That’s why I was so surprised to read about a woman named Aloise.  A polio victim, Aloise was trapped in a wheel-chair when the holocaust swept through Rwanda in 1994 and so many Tutsis were killed.  Yet she made it to a refugee camp with her two sons.

When author Immaculée Ilibagiza met Aloise, the woman’s laughter could be heard ringing across the camp.  Of course, she had her sons so she had reasons to be joyful.

But she also had reasons for sorrow.  She had no idea if her husband was still alive and in hiding.  Furthermore, on her own journey, her infant daughter had died.

Yet, she chose joy.  Even in the midst of a holocaust, she laughed.  She celebrated, and in doing this she lifted up those around her.

If you haven’t read Ilibagiza’s Left to Tell, pick it up today.  I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the book, such sorrow!, but it is more than sorrow.  It is the story of how one woman found God while hiding from her would-be killers.  If is about how she found courage and wonder even in the midst of so much killing.

And, truly, if the Tutsi women of Rwanda could find reasons to be joyful in 1994, so can we.

–SueBE

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