“Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked, as I entered the crowded kitchen at Ananda’s Meditation Retreat. The staff was moving in high gear, busily preparing an elaborate Indian banquet for several hundred guests and residents to be served later that day.
With a grateful smile, the head cook pointed to a twenty-five-pound box of lemons, and said, “All those need to be juiced. Put them in a big bowl, and find a hand juicer [there was no electricity at the Retreat then]. You can go out on the deck and work there.”
It was a beautiful summer’s day, so I settled myself on the deck at a large table under a tree, and began the task at hand. I was happy to help in whatever way I could to prepare for the feast.
After a while, one of the guests saw that I was obviously enjoying myself, and asked, “Can I juice some lemons, too?”
“Sure,” I replied. “Go to the kitchen, and get another big bowl and a hand juicer. We can work together.”
He quickly returned, we divided the lemons into two bowls, and we began juicing away in the beautiful sunshine. After about five minutes, perhaps wondering why I seemed to be enjoying myself, my new friend said, “I think your lemons are better than mine.” I willingly switched bowls so that he could work from mine, although I knew they were all from the same box.
Another five minutes passed, and he said, “I think your juicer is better than mine.” Again I willingly switched, although I could see that there wasn’t much difference between the two.
Another five minutes ticked away. Not finding this task very rewarding, the guest suddenly remembered, “Oh, I have something else I need to do now.” I inwardly chuckled to myself as he departed, seeing that he hadn’t found the secret of how to make it enjoyable.
Was there anything inherently fun in juicing the big bowl of lemons? Not really. As Paramhansa Yogananda said, “All conditions are neutral. It’s what we think of them that makes them seem good or bad.”
But I was enjoying myself because I brought enthusiasm, willingness, and joy to the task at hand. Whatever the day holds for you, try to approach it with an eager, positive attitude, and you’ll find that life becomes filled with endless opportunities for joy.
In his book, Affirmations for Self-Healing, Swami Kriyananda wrote: “Enthusiasm is the spirit of joy channeled through the power of the will. To achieve happiness, one must work with happiness. To achieve divine joy, one must be keenly enthusiastic in everything one does!”
May you bring enthusiasm to even the simplest task that lies before you today, and may you learn how to turn all your lemons into lemonade.
With joy in God,