We’ve all heard (and hopefully believe) the phrase “Money can’t buy love.” I think we’d also agree with variations on that quotation, swapping out the word LOVE for HAPPINESS and other similar nouns.
But I’d have to draw the line at JOY, since I just purchased a bouquet of joy, and it only cost me 61¢. It’s the bouquet that you see to the right, put together by a little Quechua lady who picked these flowers from her own yard, and sold the bundle to me for 2 Soles, which works out to 61¢ in U.S. dollars. And lest you think I was being cheap by paying so little, the 2 Soles she got for this bouquet paid for her ride home, leaving the change that she earned from selling all of her other flowers and herbs as cash in her pocket. So she went home happy, and I… well, each time I see the color combination in this bouquet, it makes my heart just want to sing!
So now you know my little secret…
I spend money on JOY.
I do this every single week when I’m in the market taking care of the mundane necessity of buying food.
You would probably reach out for a bit of joy and beauty also, if your shopping experience looked like this ⇒
⇐ and this!
But enough of the ugly, and back to the JOY.
Usually I spend a bit more than just 61¢. My typical Saturday bouquet of Calla lilies costs about $1.52 (5 Soles), and for that price I get enough lilies to fill several vases. And I always keep my eye open for Quechua ladies who bring uniquely colored bouquets and flowers that can light up an entire room with their delicate aroma.
When I have bouquets like this gracing the window at the foot of our bed, it certainly makes Sunday afternoon naps hard to avoid!
One of my favorite joy splurges is buying flowers for the holidays, and creating arrangements to fit the occasions. Of course, I end up spending a bit more than 61¢ on these bouquets, but the output of joy is multiplied by the number of people who come into our home to celebrate those special days with us. Often I’ll invite some of the guests to come early and help me make the flower arrangements, further multiplying the joy and creating fun memories in the process.
So how is it that something as simple as a flower can bring such joy… and legitimize the statement that money actually CAN buy joy?
The English Romantic poet John Keats was on the right track when he began his most famous poem with this line:
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever…”
(Thanks to my high school English teacher Kathleen Neds for that enlightenment.)
But I believe the idea that a thing of beauty brings joy goes back a lot farther than John Keats… a whole lot farther.
In fact, I believe that this concept goes all the way back to the beginning of time, when God laid the earth’s foundation, and marked off its dimensions… stretched a measuring line across it and laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy. (Job 38:4-7)
Take a minute to imagine what you would have felt if you had been a spectator along with the morning stars and the the angels at that very first amazing day of creation…
I’m pretty sure we would have joined them in shouting for joy!
So this brings me back to my weekly Saturday market splurges. Is “buying joy” a legitimate excuse for me to fill my house with flowers each week? After all, I’m doing this pretty much just for myself, and it’s not part of the “missionary work” that so many good people are supporting when they send monthly financial donations to our Wycliffe account. But I have a pretty good idea that quite a few of those partners would be pleased to know that 61¢ of their monthly donations brings me enough joy to keep me cheerful and praising God throughout the week.
So, if that’s your 61¢ that I spent on Saturday, THANK YOU!
And to God, the Creator of these amazing flowers,
“I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” Psalm 92:4