A recent day was sunny and warm, so I dressed my daughter in shorts for the first time this season. She looked at me in my shorts and observed we matched. She ran into the bathroom where my wife was getting ready, sat on the side of the tub, and showed my wife her shorts. She announced that she and daddy matched and then exclaimed "Me so happy!" This became her mantra for the day.
An Amazon package arrived in a baby sized box. "Me so happy!" She got to play an instrument while watching a video mass. "Me so happy!" Her dress had a zebra print on it. "Me so happy!" She went on the potty all by herself and got herself dressed again without any help. "Me so happy!" I waved at her through the open window while mowing the lawn. "Me so happy!" She got to ride with Mommy to the gas station. "Me so happy!" I pushed her in her swing. "Me so happy!" She got a yellow toothbrush, her favorite color. "Me so happy!" I gave her a big bear hug. "Me so happy!"
This time of quarantining at home has not always been easy. We have been sailing through an unending stream of chaos cascading between working from home, homeschooling, and trying to keep the house under control. Trying to clean the house has been an exercise in futility as the kids make new messes as fast as we can clean them up. We had been excited about special events which had to be cancelled, and we couldn't get a babysitter for a night out. Many days have ended with me collapsing in exhaustion and frustration.
Early in the quarantine I heard Matt Maher's Alive and Breathing for the first time. Though it had been released shortly before the stay at home orders were issued, it offered the perfect message of encouragement for me. It has become my anthem when I felt most frustrated with the state of affairs. The refrain has been playing in my mind on repeat:
Joy still comes in the morning
Hope still walks with the hurting
If you're still alive and breathing
Praise the Lord
Don't stop dancing and dreaming
There's still Good News worth repeating
So lift your head and keep singing
Praise the Lord
Sometimes young children can be quicker to get caught up in the excitement of simple things and exclaim "Me so happy!" We parents can allow our joy to be suppressed under the weight of work to do for our jobs, bills to pay, chores to complete, worries and fears to face. Children have their stressors too. Temper tantrums flare and tears flow easily, but they end and a smile breaks out again with an exclamation of "Me so happy!" This happiness and excitement comes from the simple things. They don't need to go on a luxury vacation or win the lottery to be happy. They simply need to get a cup that's their favorite color or an opportunity to scribble with some crayons. I thought about my daughter's response to these simple pleasures when listening to the second verse of Matt Maher's song:
Years roll by
We wonder why
We lost our way from home
Our Father finds
The child inside
We had left for growing old
Awake, awake, awake my soul
My daughter has unwittingly challenged me to find the child inside, to find joy in the simple things of life. The song has reminded me when I find a glimmer of joy then I should praise the Lord. Even when the simple joys are hard to find, no matter how much stress builds up, no matter how many plans are cancelled to stop the spread of the virus, no matter how much pain and suffering we experience, we still have a God who loves us unconditionally so there is still Good News worth repeating. The images of patients with COVID-19 struggling to breath remind us that even something as simple as our ability to take a deep breath can be reason to praise the Lord. Furthermore, I was struck my a petition in a video mass a few weeks ago which said, "That no one would be so attached to this earth so as to regret being called to eternal life in heaven." This petition reminded me that even as we breath our final breaths, even then I hope we praise the Lord. As we emerge from quarantine and slowly begin to resume our normal activities, we can be especially grateful for those blessings we may have taken for granted before we began the time of seclusion.
So get up early and watch the sun rise and remember joy still comes in the morning. Allow yourself to be dazzled by the brilliant colors that emerge when the sunlight plays with the clouds. Breath deeply in the crisp morning air. Praise the Lord and shout "Me so happy!"
Go walk in a park and remember hope still walks with the hurting. Listen to the wind blowing in the trees, spend some time standing at an overlook, relax next to a stream or waterfall, and notice the wild flowers growing near the path. Praise the Lord and exclaim "Me so happy!"
If you're still alive and breathing, marvel at the amazing complexity of the body God created just for you, a body unlike any other body that has ever existed or will ever exist again. Marvel at your ability to see, to taste, to smell, to hear. Wiggle your fingers and think about the intricate bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels that all work together in perfect coordination for even so simple a task. Even if your body is fragile or imperfect, appreciate the health and abilities you do have for a moment, praise the Lord, and whisper "Me so happy!"
If you, like me, hear a new song that gets stuck in your head or that stirs your soul, if you see an artistic masterpiece that captivates you with its beauty, or even if you take a fresh look at decorations in your home that are as sentimental as they are beautiful, then don't stop dancing and dreaming. Praise the Lord and sing "Me so happy!"
When you have a rough day and you're hungry, tired, sad, pained, stressed, or overwhelmed, when you look around and see only darkness, when you struggle to find even the simplest of joys, then remember the foundational truth that no matter what may happen in this life there is a God who loves you more than you can possibly imagine. Even then, there is still Good News worth repeating, so praise the Lord and repeat to yourself "Me so happy."
If you are safe at home with your family, then hold them close to you and thank God for their presence in your life. If you hear your family's voices on the phone or see their faces in a video chat, then take a moment to appreciate the marvelous technology that allows us to stay connected in new and innovative ways. Life your head and keep singing, praise the Lord! And especially if you have the opportunity to observe children, recognize how they find joy and happiness in even the simplest things, then find the child within yourself again and scream "Me so happy!"