Recognize joy when it comes to you

It’s been almost two months now since Phoebe came into our lives. Phoebe, the beautiful white dog, the dog that almost glows in the dark.
Phoebe tucks us in at night and gives us a welcoming lick first thing in the morning. Her job is taking care of us, and she’s expert at it. She helps when we garden and sits quietly by when we watch a movie.
She guards the front door and the back–but readily approves of the people we call friends.
I read once that dogs can be trained to understand 2,000 words, and Phoebe must know all of them. In English. She’s the dog I’ve dreamed about for years.
Nobody knows Phoebe’s early background for sure but it’s assumed by her behaviour that she was trained as a companion dog. She learned her lessons well and after four years with a family that for health reasons could no longer keep her, Phoebe has found her rightful place.
Now, I’m not superstitious or anything, but I do find it remarkable that within a week of the time “Phoebe the dog” arrived, “Phoebe the bird” also took up residence in the big shade tree just outside my office window.
There’s no mistaking that call. “Phee-be. Phee-be. Phee-be.” Even Phoebe the dog listens.
Phoebe the bird certainly has to be one of the nicest members of the flycatcher family, with its crested head and longish tail. And above all its tell-tale song. That little bird couldn’t be more welcome in our backyard.
Both of these things together made me start wondering about the name Phoebe. I began to wonder just what kind of good fortune might have come into our lives, almost uninvited.
Well, it turns out that Phoebe is named after the Greek moon goddess. Maybe that’s why she glows in the dark. Phoebe is also the feminine of Phoebeus, a second Greek name for Apollo, the god of the sun.
If you’ve studied Greek mythology, you know that Apollo stands for everything good in life. Light. Youth. Beauty. Song. Music, and poetry. The guardian of flocks and herds. A health-giving god, he is credited with inventing the flute.
Now, as I said, I’m not superstitious, and I certainly don’t worship Greek deities. But, on the other hand, maybe there is something in a name. Especially, this summer.
It isn’t always easy to find the joy in life. The light and youth. The song and poetry. The health and beauty.
And it would be easy sometimes to give in to despair and worry. To wonder how things are going to work out. To imagine all kinds of negative outcomes in the years ahead. Yes, it would be easy, but we simply can’t afford to do it.
We owe it to ourselves to always seek the joy in life. To search for it wherever we can. And above all, to make sure we recognize it when it comes to us unsolicited.
Joy can come from so many things, especially in the summer. A beautiful rose bush blossoming for the first time. Fresh blackberries from the garden. A visit from a college roommate. The song of a meadowlark, or a cardinal. Morning coffee on the deck. Joy is almost always in the little things.
So what about your summer? Are your eyes and ears open? What synchronicity have you experienced? What joy have you created? And what joy has come uninvited?
For me, this summer’s joy is a gentle white dog and a cheery little bird that calls her name. What will it be for you?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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