I recently worked with three colleagues to design and lead a “Gratitude Pilgrimage”. The goal was to offer people a chance to disconnect from technology, explore local areas, and connect with new people through the theme of gratitude. Each participant approached this opportunity differently and enjoyed the 15 mile trek from Lands End San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge to Rodeo Bridge at the Marin Headlands. After the walk people reflected on how recharged they felt despite the physical fatigue. A fellow participant and I coined the term “Joy Spark Sabbath”while walking and discussing our gratitude. We felt it was a good term to illustrate the value of those short term connections in life that begin with curiosity.
“Joy Sparks” are those quick moments where a person feels some inner joy. It might be watching a hummingbird in a garden, a child laugh, or even observing an elderly couple hold hands. For a moment, it brings a smile to your face and lets you breath a little slower and more deeply.
To take it to the next level, a “Joy Spark Sabbath”, is being curious about other people and wondering…”I wonder how we are connected?” Is there one small thread that weaves our lives together? As a resident of the San Francisco Bay area, 1000’s of tourists pass through our coastal towns every week waiting for the ferry to return them to San Francisco. I love to sit on the shoreline, watch the diversity of people on a holiday, hear the range of languages, and observe families and couples engaging with our beautiful landscape. I also find it rewarding to engage people in a conversation. Often we find we’ve shared an experience, lived in a similar place, or even known the same people. It’s so fun to find our point of connections. This pause in my life to connect with a stranger is what I call a “Joy Spark Sabbath”.
I feel recharged after sharing a conversation of respectful curiosity with strangers. Finding our commonalities feels like a gift. It is as if I had a mini-sabbath just by meeting someone new. It is the energy that comes from finding our commonalities that gives me a bit of joy. In an age where so many connections happen via technology there is something so simple and lovely about sharing our stories in person. Once we’ve connected, we part ways and most likely will never meet again. Yet, the connection was a spark of joy for both of us as we paused and shared a moment to connect.
Are there people in your office, community, neighborhood where you could engage in a “joy spark sabbath”? Try it out. See how many points of connection you can find. Yesterday, I met a woman from Cleveland, Ohio on the beach at Point Reyes. We got chatting and discovered she had actually been to the concert where my nephew performed in May 2017. “Joy Spark Sabbath!”