I am involved with a lovely group that meets about every month, on the Tuesday closest to Rosh Hodesh, for lunch. Rosh Hodesh is Hebrew for Head of the Month, the first day of each month of the Jewish calendar. For reasons you can probably figure out, this mini holiday is associated with women, and throughout the world there are groups of Jewish women that meet once a month to celebrate in different ways.
My group studies a little bit of Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism), talking about various symbols and energies related to that month. The month that just started is Adar, the month in which the holiday of Purim falls. Purim is a joyous holiday, one of several Jewish holidays that celebrate the survival of the Jewish people despite the efforts of various oppressors.
Sometimes at our gatherings we are privileged to have Rabbi Lee Moore participate. She brings her guitar, and leads us in songs that bring the spirit of the holiday alive. The energy of Adar is 'simcha', often translated as 'joy'. Rabbi Lee told us that 'joy' doesn't really express the true meaning of the word 'simcha'. Adar is not a feeling of "Happy, happy, joy, joy" all is right with the world. It is rather a feeling that no matter what, you can have joy in your life.
The Purim story does not tell of the Jews being scooped up and brought to safety. We had to fight for our lives. Looked at another way, we were not mowed down by the enemy, but were given the opportunity to defend ourselves. We did, and we survived. There was destruction, there were deaths, but we survived, and, no matter what, we continue to survive.
I really connected with this explanation of the word 'simcha'. I have had chronic pain for about 25 years. I have had fatigue off and on for about 10. I have had various other issues for various lengths of time, including gastrointestinal problems, hypothyroid, dryness, and on and on (or so it seems). I have had some depression, as do many people dealing with multiple and long lasting medical issues. No, all is not right with my world, but, no matter what, there is joy in my life. There is, because I make it so. I refuse to let my maladies win. I fight to keep my body in working order. There has been destruction (of the moisture producing glands in my body, thanks to the Sjogren's), but I survive. For that, there is reason for joy.