Accessibility Tools

Skip to main content
1. Celestial Atlas

Pride, strength, and power exist.
I believe that all animals have emotions important to them.
The happiness of coyote pups playing “bite my tail.”
The sacred joy of being close that is purring.
The love of naps piled in with your pack.
The dog howl of misery on a freezing day.
We feel it.
These are not luxuries; they are the stuff of life—essentials.
They keep us going, and we survive.
And it’s why, when I watch this horse—his name is Celestial Atlas—a big black young warlander, who dreams his dreams and eats his hay, who wants what he wants and will knock me down and drag me along to get it, I feel him in me.
He’s a big, clean animal. Clean in his feelings, clean in his desire. Not so clean in his habits, ok; I give him that.
But his name is Celestial Atlas. A map of the stars across a black sky.
And when I see him, I feel his pride, strength, and power—holy power—like they are my home.

2. Joy Machine

I felt joyless. So I went to the hardware store and asked if they had a joy machine. You know, like you say a word or press a button, and it just bubbles out joy.

“I’d buy one of those,” the hardware clerk said, “but we don’t have one.”

So I went to Hallmark and asked if they had a joy machine. And the clerk said “Sure. Look in the card section between ‘first marriages’ and ‘divorce.’”

And I said, “No, I don’t want a card, I want a joy machine. You know, a machine that bubbles out joy. Makes you feel better.”

And the clerk said “Nope. We don’t have one of those.”

So I looked all over town, and didn’t find one joy machine. Not one. So, I went home, and at dinner, there’s this one-year-old, who shrieks and laughs, and laughs, and can’t stop laughing because her mother says “Uhhhhh, BOO!”

3. God’s Dictionary

I was wondering what joy was and how to get it. So I decided to look up the definition of joy in God’s dictionary.

I went to the library and walked upstairs to God’s section. I sat down at the computer and found God’s dictionary online. Because previously, God’s dictionary was as big as a bathtub, and you had trouble turning the pages. So now God just put it all online, and you can look up your answers faster and God can keep sipping his coke by the poolside as you search for the answers to life.

As a test, I looked up the word “dinosaur,” and it said, “Anyone over 65 years to 230 million years old.” So most dinosaurs are dead and there’s just a few of us trailing to get there.

That seemed right, so I started to type in “joy.” And I accidentally typed in “Job,” like in the bible? And it said “A moper; a person who pouts professionally.”

Intrigued, I typed in “Jonah,” and the definition said “In over his head, and no one likes him.”

And then I typed in “joy,” and there was nothing there, like it was God’s secret or something. A blank definition.

So I typed in “spring” for fun, and the definition said “Agression; when green is taking back the world.” I liked that. And so I typed in ”Lindsay Sterling with her beautiful violin,” and the definition said “There is a soul.”

And so I typed in the name of my sweetheart Kristin E. Luce, and the definition said “joy.”

4. Goddess Claire

This is my sacred daughter, Claire; happy in herself.

What you don’t see inside of her is a great golden bell of her strength, a singing silver bell of her intelligence, and a great brass bottle of her courage. And of course, a tinkling, crystal, Christmas bell of her grace.

She is goal-oriented, and today her goal is to pick up garbage off our beloved family beach. She is well-armed with her happiness, a bucket, and her new pick-up stick. No garbage, no matter how horrible, shall defy her.

She is a goddess on the hunt; she will stride by in her ocean glory, leave a trail of clean sand in her wake. Seagulls will cheer, turtles will bow. “Go get that garbage, girl,” as passing walkers see someone freely cleaning her beach, and say “Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.”

And walk your dancing walk chanting “Success. Success,” with each bit of trash, each cigarette butt, torn beer you can retrieve and stuff into your guzzling bucket.

And after a long walk, picking up plastic water bottles, broken styrofoam cups, bottle caps lost like seeds, pulling up sodden plastic bags like kangaroo pouches filled with wet sand, you turn and see the great beautiful stage of your home-town beach, clean, clean, clean. And sign our names on it like any work of art, and walk away free, unknown, untamed.

And maybe, Claire, my sacred daughter, do a little dance of the triumphant goddess when you’re done.

5. Ten Points of Joy

During my day, I sometimes bump into points of joy.

Like on my morning walk, I saw this bench. Imagine the joy the artist felt as he made it—a bench that wants to give you a hug.

And imagine a young girl who loves horses so much she had to fold one out of paper.

And as I was out walking I saw this woman, exercising her dogs, and the young, energetic one was fetching all the balls, and the old dog wasn’t getting any. And so, she did a fake. And threw for the old one, and sure enough, he lumbered out, and fetched it. And when he came back, the old guy said, “That’s enough for me. Thanks. Done.”

And then today I saw a coffee-shop barista accidentally shoot whip cream up her nose.

And later I looked at my lawn and saw it was full of wonderful white flowers we call “weeds.”

And now that the plague has come, and we’re house-ridden, I see my daughter signing into her computer, during her sign language class, shining grace.

And look at the spring sour grass, wearing brilliant yellow going-to-sunday-church clothes.

And this one I call the headlock. Points of Joy.

And each morning as I get up, I look at this picture of Kristin, so young, so happy, holding her heart’s desire.

And for the tenth point of joy, I include the obligatory kitten hunting ferocious under the rug.

And, as an added bonus, here’s my morning hair, standing up tall, as it decides what we’re going to do today.

6. Things I Didn’t Know About You

When I met you, I didn’t know you. You needed some help, and, you needed someone. And I wanted to help you, and I needed someone too.

Here are a few things I didn’t know about you:

You always sleep with one foot outside the covers. Always.

You have a generous heart, always giving. For example, when the old lady across the street died, you put up this heart, to show we cared about her when she died alone. That’s your heart.

And oddly, you love skeletons. We have a family that lives on our couch.

And oh, you’re wicked smart. Kristin Luce. That’s you.

And though you didn’t grow up on a farm or be around horses, now you’re a horse person. Horsing with your daughter.

You’re political. You have candidates that you support, donate to, really want to win. And you’ll protest. And the fun thing is, you’ll take us with you.

And here’s a strange thing. You have a set of dishes that you love, but you hide them in our closet. You see them as beautiful. They are folk art, painted by a black artist, painting children. But you hide them because someone, who doesn’t know it’s a black artist, might be offended.

And you have secrets.

You are really into the royal family, and here’s your altar. Complete with the heroic but ever-fragile Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

And a really big thing about you is that you’re an excellent photographer. The great eye, and expertise, determination—great photos.

And here is your masterpiece. A self-portrait taken by you, of your heart’s desire.

And because of these things, I know I will always feel joy, as some point during the day.

7. The Ring for No Reason

This is a ring she gave me for no reason. Costume jewelry, a bit feminine, but she thought I might wear it—a gift of affection given for no reason.

So now I wear two rings. This one I’ve worn every day of our marriage. Every day, faithful and long. And now this one, a little extra for good looks, a change in style, and for no reason.

And so I’ll wear it every day, until one of us drops to the floor and rolls away, never to be found again.

And in my hours of doubt, and need, and worry, I look at this ring she gave me for no reason, and it carries me through.

And when I look for reasons to save me, reasons that aren’t coming, solutions are none. I look at this simple ring given to me for no reason—a touch of thoughtfulness—and the reason is beautiful.

8. I Don’t Know

I don’t know what this is about.

The things you see just are.

I don’t know the rules.

I just know love and kindness are the tools I use.

I don’t know what this is about.

We just do it every day, and the things we need appear, and the things we don’t.

And there isn’t a map from here to there. And you probably won’t get there.

Because, time is short, and it will be a typical day in your life when all fails, and you have to go.

But there are things you see and have to feel—deep, deep, deep.

And some painful enough to turn you inside out.

And some so beautiful no one will ever understand what happened to you.

So look at them.

Look at them like it was your last day, and they may invite you to another.

Here are some beautiful words—let’s listen to them:

Graham cracker, pronounced “gramma cracker”
Tea kettle
Kiss me, as in “kiss me now”
Tarantula, sounding like a dangerous dance
And one of the most beautiful words—doughnut

I don’t know what this is about.

The things you see just are.

I don’t know the rules.

I just know love and kindness are the tools I use.

9. Riding to Beauty

You ride into my world with courage and calm.

We feel the joy of your success.

And follow.

You ride in as if all this was easy, and natural.

You can tame, and train, something that outweighs you by 900 pounds.

You care for old things that really need you.

And your responsibility shines like an evening star.

And you succeed.

And, your life turns to art.

And the artist puts a little of herself into every piece of art she does.

This is not to say that you didn’t start out as a kid.

“So I have some good news for you. Daddy and I talked about it. And, since the cats were so good with Muffin around, we decided that we could get a new kitten.”

“Is that a good idea?” (yes!)

“Yeah? (yeah)

“When should we go?” (I don’t care)

And so we got a new cat.

And you help your mother fix her horse, even when your enthusiasm wanes.

And you have read together with your mother at night, in bed, for 16 years.

10. Looking for Joy

A Love that Lets Go
Adam Anders and Nikki Hassman

There’s a gold frame
that sits by the window
and my heart breaks
a little more each time I try
to picture the memory inside

There’s an old book
it’s too hard to read it
but if you look
you’d see how you look through my eyes
Now one more chapter’s gone by
and I know

It’s time to move on
even though I’m not ready
I’ve got to be strong
and trust where you’re heading
Even though it’s not easy (it’s not easy)
right now the right kind of love
is the love that lets go

There’s an old dance
that we’ve done forever
you give me your hand
but let me decide when to reach
you always let me be me

But now’s my time to take chances
and find my own ways
and whatever happens
I know you’ll be there waiting for me

It’s time to move on
even though I’m not ready
I’ve got to be strong
and trust where I’m heading
Even though it’s not easy (it’s not easy)
I know the right kind of love

Doesn’t want to miss the future
or stand in the past
We’ll always hold on
but never hold you back
And even though it’s not easy (it’s not easy)
right now the right kind of love
is the love that lets go

Is the love that lets go