The Smallest Joys

This is going to be mundane. I’m excited.

First, you have to understand that I don’t spend much money. This is partly because I don’t have much and partly because I don’t need much, but also, and perhaps most importantly, because I have very, very good sales resistance. I usually walk into stores with a very definite list of what I need, and often I walk out with less than that. In fact just last week, I went to one specific store to buy one specific thing, looked at it for a while, decided that I didn’t want it after all, and went contently back home with nothing. I’ve never learned to be a good consumer.

So everytime I go to the Farmer’s Market out on I-40 I stare wistfully at the stalls of gorgeous bright flowers and tell whoever I’m with that really the only reason I want to get married one day is for an excuse to buy buckets and buckets of those things to fill a church with. Usually my companion tells me practically that since they’re only ten dollars, and typically my paycheck is more than that, I should go ahead and buy some now if I like them so much. I never listen.

But last weekend I threw a little bridal shower for a friend and, feeling a little giddy, I headed out to the Farmer’s Market with Karen, and walked away with a bunch of the much-desired flowers cradled in my arms like an infant. Since the bride was leaving town two days after the shower, I kept them and the most hardy of them are still sitting on my kitchen table, shining out the last vestiges of their glory.

Then on Tuesday I went to run an errand for a friend before I had a hair appointment and realized I had some extra time, so, perhaps feeling the afterglow of the marvelous floral purchase, I decided to wander around a little bit. I went to Barnes and Noble, where I bought myself a just-for-fun book, and then to Schiffman’s, where I had my ring cleaned, and then I took myself to lunch and read in the car. Granted, at both Barnes and Noble and Panera, I used gift cards, the book I bought was from the clearance table, and jewelry cleaning is an entirely complimentary service, so I didn’t technically spend a cent on myself all day (even, incidentally, at the hair appointment.) Yet as I stood there in Schiffman’s waiting for my ring, smiling into glowing glass cases at the silver and gold, and politely deflecting the saleslady’s attempts to get me to start a “wishlist” (ha!), I felt a warm, creeping joy, and decided that no matter how puny and silly it might seem to anyone else, I was having my own personal girl’s day out. I felt incredibly frivolous and also heavenly.

Most of the time, especially since fully entering the adult world two years ago, I try to go into every situation and do what should be done. I buy what I should buy, I go where I should go, I say what I should say. I live by the word “should.” Should is a very important word. Should makes the world go round.

But should is not the only word. Perhaps, at times, I need to keep an eye out for places and moments where should has nothing to do with it, where the only real operator on the scene is small, bright joy. And, if you’ll excuse me for applying theology to something as silly and ephemeral as consumerism, I think Jesus died so that “should” would no longer have to be my master. He died so that he, the Light of the world, the Lily of the Valley, could be my master instead.

I’ve worn my grandmother’s ring nearly every day since my senior year of high school, and in that time, I’ve only had it cleaned twice. Now when I look at it, it sparkles. And it makes me happier than I ever knew it could.

2 thoughts on “The Smallest Joys

  1. What’s your favorite flower because personally I like roses because the rose is so pretty in its pedals, but it is also strong in its thorns. Red roses in particular because red to me just symbolizes warmth and this one might be weird but I think red also has a sense of power.

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