The Quake of Uncommon Toil

I hear joy. It comes from downstairs, in the school room. Mother and daughter  laughing together as daughter reads her first sentences. 

I hear joy in the land of pretend as daughter number two plays in the hallway, content to be alone in the wonder of her imagination. 

I hear joy as baby-baby walks from room to room clopping her Wellies, jibber-jabbering to no one in particular. 

I hear joy in the verse of Coleridge

Return pure Faith! return meek Piety!

The kingdoms of the world are yours; each heart

Self-governed, the vast family of Love

Raised from the common earth by common toil

Enjoy the equal produce. Such delights

As float to earth, permitted visitants!

When in some hour of solemn jubilee

The massy gates of Paradise are thrown 

Wide open, and forth come in fragments wild

Sweet echoes of unearthly melodies

O the passion rising from the uncommon voice and the yearning heart of the poet, of you and of me. 

I hear joy as the wind funnels by in a midnight rush--I ride my bike home beneath cold sky and singing stars--O, the joy! 

I hear the joy in the smiles of new friends as new thoughts stir imagination, as story forms in the mind's eye, finding substance in words and drawings on the page. 

We bend, do we not? Beneath the quake of common toil. And yet we find how bending brings joy just as water smooths the stone. Our daily friction curving and carving our lives into the stones that color the water, that tumble the creeks, that rapid the rivers in a joyous cacophony of magnificence. 

We run and shimmer. 

We, of the Kingdom's land. 

We, of the joyous land. 

Timothy Willard is the author of three books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life. He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. He lived in Oxford, England for two years studying beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis. He earned his PhD in Theology under the supervision of world-renowned theologian Alister McGrath. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.