Mo Leverett

The Joy of One Thing

In a broken world – where the news cycle is a spinning kaleidoscope of calamity – it is necessary to explore and rediscover the joy of one thing.

In this shattered age, there is plenty enough to make us sad, enough to make us afraid, enough to make us even panic or despondent – yet there is always the joy of one thing.

Many a millennia passes, and for our pursuit of autonomy, God banished us from Eden. Thus, we are all in a sense homeless – wandering aimlessly exiled from where we naturally belong – prodigals seeking our return to paradise – or contented with lesser things.

While we, in our newly discovered fallen state, began our narcissistic pursuit of plotting against our brother, God was alternatively charting a new redemptive course and the restoration of all things good. He took us in as we were and began a new work among us. He left lingering traces of Eden to be found in the spectacle of creation: the majesty of a maple leaf, the grandeur of the microscopic, the daily display of horizon’s hues. In these details are the larger story unfolding.

We, like Him, have the capacity to enjoy, even create beautiful things: canvases filled with colors, verses of deep poetic introspection or simple cheer, marvels of progressive industry.

It is wrong to become overwhelmed by this world and ever so right to find our unique place of limited dominion and the imperfect joy of one thing.

What beauty poured out, for instance, despite its origins in crescent-city poverty and social injustice, from the simple twists and configurations of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet and guttural bliss? What anthems of praise, despite the limitations of abject human frailty, were spilled out of the pens of Keats, Shakespeare, Elliot and Tolkien? Pushing back upon the darkness within, they found the light of joy in one thing. And they like so many other pieces of divine art in this world pull back the dark circumstantial curtain to leak superior ethereal light.

Outside the shop where I am presently writing this blog, through dusty windows, I spot the blast of purple flowers against the backdrop of dark green magnolias, lighter greens of sprawling oaks and low-lying palms. I’m in Florida, where I can walk to water’s edge and see the moonrise upon darkened sea or suns set on rising rivers. But wherever we are, there is always something of beauty that bursts and begs notice – landmarks on our expedition of redemptive return.

When I was young, I would risk the tops of southern trees to gain higher perspective. I would also lie back upon old beds of Georgia pine straw and take in the constellations of clouds and stars. I peeled the tender pins from honeysuckle blossoms for one single drop of eternal sweetness. I knew then what I am prone to forget now – with the many disadvantages of adulthood – the joy of one thing.

After languishing in the Fall for many thousand years, Jesus entered our skin, becoming intent on the joy of one thing: that He might redeem us to Himself and reconcile us with the Father and fill us with His Holy Spirit – to restore us through and through, to heal our blindness, to correct our paths, to make us into a spectacle of grace.

And for what purpose?

He acted in part, that we might rediscover our instinctive delight in one thing, to revive our capacity for stopping and noticing what He has left behind – those hints that foreshadow all that He has prepared for our glorious future in Him.

And despite what happens around us, no matter how troubling, no matter how personally disruptive, a small enchantment like the fall of a tender snowflake, or the placement of a quiet rainbow on the back end of storms, always, and I mean always…tells the better and more precise story.