Wooden Boxes of Joy

God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box . . . as rainwater, down into flowerbed. As roses up from ground. —Rumi

Here’s something I wrote for one of my Zoom writing classes. It’s sort of a lyric essay, inspired by the Rumi quote above. I added a few photos, of course. 

Wooden Boxes of Joy

If only I could box up joy for a rainy day, a bad-news day, a fearful, unjust, maddening day.  A day of covid spikes, wildfires, hurricanes, business fails, lingering grief. Not in cardboard, way too likely to disintegrate under the first flood of tears. I would choose instead solid wood, maybe with a strong latch to hold the joy inside. Then again, maybe I already have.

I think there’s some joy in the old trunk we had in our early days, nothing special, peeling paper dimmed with age between the ribs, but it held the comfort of extra blankets and pillows and the mystique of far-flung travel otherwise lacking in our poor-newlywed thrift-store décor.

And there is certainly joy in the miniature Narnian wardrobe on the library fireplace, crammed with tiny fur coats, . . . 

 . . . the carved wood, regal lion beckoning me in. There’s room enough and to spare for joy in Narnia. I haven’t yet made it out through the back, but I keep hoping.

And also in the heavy-grained dark wood, rounded-top chest holding the dreadful game Dread Pirate and memories of happy-dancing exultation after winning my first eBay auction to get it.

Impossible to resist gleaming gold doubloons and glittering glass jewels pulled out of soft velvet bags and the prospect of sailing heavy-cast frigates across treasure mapped seas.

No matter the game itself is boring, the company never was, and that wooden box holds many a laughing Argh!! from days gone by.

Certainly joy is in the cognac box that shared our travels, picked up at the end of our Charente river adventure, five days in a thirty-four-foot cabin-cruiser, the two of us navigating locks neither of us had the experience to manage without angst. A little cognac came in handy those evenings, once moored, but this box held a special bottle, untouched, thirty years old, a gift for friends who had done much to make our adventure possible. We just had to get it back to them. So the box—and the bottle—cruised the Charente along with us, then rode the train to La Rochelle, and a few months later, flew across the ocean to glory in the fall foliage of New England, to feel the power of the wind on the Outer Banks, to stroll the flat sands, shelling on Folly Beach and revel in the weird of Key West. Then on to Memphis for blues, booze and barbecue and Santa Fe for silver and salsa. And finally home to Colorado.

The bottle had made it, unopened, intact. We toasted our return, we four, but then it came out of the box only on worthy occasions, a few special dinners, weddings, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, usually shared with us. The cognac lasted longer than David did. We finished it together, the three of us, after he was gone. Then one day they brought me the beautiful wood box, our old traveling companion, to hold his ashes for a while. I have it still. And it is brimming with joy.

Wishing you joy even in these very difficult times!