"But what is happiness, except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?" Albert Camus
Theological considerations aside, this thoughtful comment gleaned from today's Cryptoquote puzzle in the newspaper seems quite apt to me. And if we want to include theological considerations, when we live in a state of giving thanks to God, the world's "happiness" becomes "the joy of the Lord."
Part of growing older seems to be returning to a state of second childhood, and part of that is not being able to sleep through the night. (If you thought this phase would pass as Charis grows up, Jim and Monique, beware: It will happen to you, yourselves, soon enough!) But even this has its own blessings. During very cold weather, before going to bed, I close the window panels over our the sliding glass doors in the living room. I have learned that when I wake up in the middle of the night, I can steal quietly to the kitchen window, remaining undetectable to night-time visitors outside as I pass through the living room. And when there is enough moonlight, sometimes there is a beautiful sight to see. Herb woke up at the same time the other night, and I invited him to join me in this nocturnal treat. There outside the window under the oak tree were four does dining on fallen acorns. There wasn't much moonlight, and to our sleep-glazed eyes, they seemed to blink in and out of sight almost like a scene under strobe lights. But if we stood very still and strained our eyes, their shadows took on more substance, and we could see them move closer, then farther, then lift a wary head to check for danger. They, of course, would have considered us dangerous had they known of our presence. I wish we could have let them know how ethereally beautiful they were, how welcome to partake of our acorns, and how perfectly safe they were from any harm at our hands. Such simple harmony between man and animal--existing only as long as they remained ignorant of us--gave us a powerful thrill of joy, as real as a jolt of adrenaline, though lasting longer, spreading around us like a comforter that we snuggled into as we got back into bed, warmed by the beauty of God's creation all around us.