Happy Hour and the Spirit
Yesterday I went to Happy Hour. This is a periodic gathering of some people from my college community. It is a pleasant occasion, which I am always delighted to attend. There are almost no faculty who go to this kind of thing. It is a nice group of people from various spectrums across our campus. It gives me a chance to be with people I seldom or never would have any reason to greet and spend time in conversation.
It is pleasant to be in a context where there is no agenda---and especially no hidden agenda. When I am there, I am not looking for anything, I am not asking someone for something and there are no expectations. The conversation can be engaging or rather aimless and it does not matter to me.
As I drove away, I began thinking about the Happy Hour phenomenon. I know Happy Hour is a familiar idea. I know many pubs and some restaurants sponsor a daily Happy Hour. I know these are designed to get people into the place before the dinner hour. Sometimes they are designed to get people in the door and to linger longer than the people otherwise would probably stay. Of course, the lure is the discounted prices for drinks and the hors d’oeuvres that fill my stomach and leave me wanting no dinner!
I am sure the notion of Happy Hour can be abused. But with my group no bad things happen. It was a good time with some good people. Some fun was had and we all went home to get ready for a new day. It was a happy hour and I was glad to be there. There were some spirits, but there were no issues. Responsibility abounded.
But I did begin to think about the Happy Hour phenomenon. I know some folks would not approve of Happy Hour. Some unhappy people are never in favor of happiness or of anyone being happy. Some unhappy people think if someone is happy, there must be sin lurking somewhere in the vicinity! But I don’t want to go in that direction.
Instead I am intrigued that we have to create a “happy hour.” Does that mean the other twenty-three hours each day is a bunch of “unhappy hours?” Sadly I do think there are some aspects of our American culture where this unfortunately is true. It is truly sad for the person who climbs out of bed dreading the day ahead. Some head to a job they hate. Some feel condemned to work with people they can’t stand. I know there are folks seemingly condemned to perform tasks that have no apparent purpose or value.
It is no wonder people turn to spirits of various kinds. Some are legal, like the drinks served at the bar. Some are illegal, like the marijuana and other hard-core drugs. These spirits work, but they don’t bring any kind of meaningful or lasting happiness. They may last for more than an hour, but the price for this happiness is more than the cost of the joint.
I am convinced there is another spirit---a Spirit in and of the Universe---that leads to deep and lasting happiness. Some people call this the Holy Spirit; others have various names for that Spirit. The names are unimportant; the reality is the recipe for countless happy hours. Let’s pursue this a bit.
It seems to me the true happy hours are not the focus. They are not actually planned and executed. The true happy hours are more a by-product. These happy hours are a by-product of the person who comes under the influence of the Spirit---the Holy Spirit---and begins to live an inspired life.
An inspired life is not one in which the person goes around speaking in tongues or making a spiritual spectacle of herself or himself. An inspired person is the one who is so “inspirited” that they can’t help working for the good cause. Inspired people are the ones who want to reach out to the ones mired in needy places. Inspirited persons can’t help but reach out to those in need. They are ready to serve and to go a second mile where needed.
This inspired person is always ready to turn misery into majesty. Their lives proclaim that happiness is not limited to the hour of the planned party. The inspired person knows that life can be festive and that we have twenty-four hours a day to celebrate.
And maybe celebration is the key. If we have been given the gift of life and the grace to live our lives in love and service, why should happiness by limited to a single happy hour! Truly, there is so much more to life than that.
This does not deny there is suffering in the world. But the suffering should be the pretext and context for all spiritual people to become agents of transformation. The transformational agents should always be ready to proclaim the hour of happiness and be ready to throw the party of life. Or as Jesus might have said, “thy Kingdom come…”