My daughter and I were watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood earlier this week, and the episode was centered around happiness. Momma Tiger taught Daniel a new song, the Happy Song. “This is my happy song, I could sing it all day long!” By the end of the episode, my daughter was singing along with the words “happy song” each time they repeated. Sometimes “song” has three syllables because the “ng” combination can be a bit tricky, but she gets it. She knows when she is happy.

I tried playing her “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and she wasn’t as in to it until she saw the Minions on the music video. She knows what Minions are. I liked the song before I ever saw a Minion movie, I was fascinated by the website that hosted the music video when it first released, a 24 hour music video of people dancing and singing to “Happy.” Its really hard not to dance and sing when I listen to this song.

I am always happier when I listen to a song that makes me want to sing along. Even if it is not a happy song in and of itself. I am driven by the emotion and compelled to join in the collective call that is created in the music. It can be a lament or a praise, a song about a break-up or falling in love, a cry of loneliness or a celebration of unity, if it is a good song, I will be singing along by the end. I don’t even have to understand the language to want to sing along; I can learn it phonetically.

There are other things that make me happy.

Blank journals always want to find their way into my possession and into my home. They hold such potential for what they could be. I have nine or ten of them waiting to be filled.

Every time I try a new recipe and change it to make it mine, I feel the satisfaction of making something worth eating. Plus, making an old favorite recipe, one that I can nearly do by rote and don’t even have to look at the recipe, brings me incredible satisfaction.

Learning or experiencing a new story or a favorite old story either through a book or movie makes me happy, especially when we have to tease out the reasons why it is a good story. Figuring out what the storyteller is trying to do when it isn’t always obvious is one of my favorite things that my husband and I do after watching a new movie.

The ocean, a lake, or any body of water bigger than a puddle bring me peace. Laughing and playing with my daughter, husband, or friends brings me joy. Playing board games (as long as they are explained well and not a few certain types) lets me work my creative strategic analytical mind and still have fun with it.

I’m realizing now why so many happy things I read are made up of lists, because I am tempted to keep on listing things that make me happy… but I find joy and happiness in a bunch of different places, sometimes I just have to know where to look.


New Song

The Cathedral rises in the plain.

Open echoing spaces.

Light scattered across slate floors

catching flecks of dust dancing unawares.

Windows exhibit brazen colors

unashamed among greys of buttresses.

Incense rises among priests shrouded in smoke.

A voice rises in the quiet:

    Come and sing a new song.

A new song? What kind of song?

How will we sing? Why should we sing anyway?

What is the point?

    Sing a new song to the Lord.

How will we find a new song? Who will inspire us?

How will we be able to sing in the midst of all the death and terror all around?

    Sing a new song of the wonders God’s done.

Wonders? Can there be wonders still? Perhaps there can.

Perhaps God can still work wonders even in the midst of this.

    Come and sing a new song.

She repeats the words over and over. Always the same ones, singing of new songs and wonders. It is as if she knows that there must be wonders, but they haven’t evidenced themselves yet. Can there be wonders, good wonders of God in the midst of the terror that surrounds us?

In God there is no darkness at all, but this world hides secrets in each shadow. Can there be any new wonder, any hope that we seek?

The open space oppresses like a funeral pall.

But the song still echoes through the shadows. New songs, songs of hope and trust of wonderful things that God has done, and promises still to do. Hope stands here in the midst of the shadows. Doubt threatens to overtake it, but the light of hope shines through the darkness.

The cathedral shines with a beam of sunshine, spotlighting the singer. She repeats the verse once more.

    Come and sing a new song.
    Sing a new song to the Lord.
    Sing a new song of the wonders God’s done.
    Come and sing a new song.

When she finishes her song, her face lights up with the hope that springs from the song itself. The song was inspired by God, source of all wonders.

I wrote this Taize style hymn in march. YouTube link of melody coming soon.