by Melissa Spas
In conversation with religious leaders and fundraisers, I regularly hear reflections on the experience of joy. Joy, as distinct from happiness or contentment, reflects an emotional reaction that points beyond oneself toward a larger experience of connection and celebration. Joy has connotations of delight, and of well-being and enthusiasm about having what one desires. C.S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy is the story of his early life and his discovery of faith, and throughout he discusses what he notes as Joy with a capital J. In his conclusion, he says of these experiences of feeling Joy:
It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter... But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up.
For people of faith, these experiences of joy take on new meaning, directing our attention toward God.
In the work of fundraising and philanthropy, joy has a similar significance. Hank Rosso, the founder of The Fund Raising School, said that,