On Choosing Joy

In early October I spoke about the topics in my book, Please Pass the Faith, at my very first senior’s retreat. While I’ve talked and written about the importance of embracing our aging, I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed myself with its participants. Senior’s Retreats, I discovered, provide one of very few safe places for older adults to share about burdens of supporting adult children with their life struggles. In most places we only feel free to share the positives about our children and grandchildren.   I also discovered these retired folk to be living with an extra dose of grace and joy. They were the kind of seniors I’d like to grow up to be!

These appealing attributes of grace and joy were also the focus of a special afternoon treat. Jep Hostetler, author of The Joy Factor, provided a presentation “Growing Older with Grace and Joy.” Jep is also a 75-year-old retired medical professor who has done research regarding humour and spirituality among some Benedictine monks and sisters, a magician, and an optimist who still “jumps up and then looks around to see if there’s a place to land.”(p. 77) He understands joy as “a deeper sense of internal celebration, stability, buoyancy, and steadiness. Joy is spiritual depth and self awareness. Joy is like a deep, wide, slow moving, sparkling river.”(p.15) He even claimed “you can be on a river of joy in a boat full of sorrow.” This intrigued me to learn more, so I read his book, which was good, but not as dynamic or enjoyable as experiencing him in person.

His presentation, which was interspersed with jokes and magic tricks, included a good dose of wisdom about connecting across the generations, sharing family stories, accepting our ‘new normals’ with grace and faith, celebrating, finding harmless humour in situations, giving ourselves permission to laugh and play, practicing hospitality and building hope.

 After twenty years of speaking on the subject of joy Jep has become deeply convinced that joy is obtainable. It is a choice for all of us, even for those with a predisposition toward melancholy.

After experiencing this senior’s retreat and Jep’s presentation, I just think he might be right. I’m going to try deliberately choosing joy for the next while.


About Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel

As a young senior whose life could easily have ended in a nasty car crash in 2012 I live with an extra dose of gratitude to God, humanity, and the wonders of our human bodies. I am a passionate advocate for ministry WITH children and seniors in the life and ministry of the church. I started working in Faith Formation with Mennonite Church Canada in 2002. Thinking and writing about faith helps me see God at work in all kinds of surprising places. I'd like to be remembered as one who encourages others to live into God's good dream for our world. My book, Please Pass the Faith: The Spiritual Art of Grandparenting, is one big way I'm trying to share that encouragement with my peers. This blog is another way I'd like to engage people who care about growing in faith across the generations.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Family life, Senior Spirituality, Vocation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On Choosing Joy

  1. Mary Funk says:

    Thanks for this one, Elsie.  It’s a great message for our time, and in sync with another book I am reading, You Can Heal your Life by Louise  L. Hay.  She talks about choosing your responses in all situations.


    • Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel says:

      Thanks for liking my post. Consider posting a review of that book on my blog. I could open it to guest writers, like April did last spring, and we might get a series of interesting reviews. The next 3 are planned, but after that?

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