The other morning I was thinking of the music video which recently swept across the Internet: “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams. It’s quite beautiful and has a lot of spirit. The chorus begins:
“Because I’m happy—
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy—
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”
The song got me thinking about the Beatitudes that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:1–11). Some translations of the Bible use the word happy rather than blessed to describe those who are meek, merciful, peacemakers, and so on. For a long time I thought happy was a poor substitute for blessed, because it seemed too human and temporal to me. But then I was led to look at what Mary Baker Eddy says about the word happy. She points out a more spiritual sense to the word, as in this statement: “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 57).
There’s another video of “Happy” in which the students from a Detroit school use the song as a vehicle to learn. When the class eventually met Pharrell Williams, he told them, “You have a right to be happy. And happiness doesn’t cost anything!” This idea that happiness is freely available to everyone really got me thinking about those Beatitudes. I started thinking about the similarity between human joy and the spiritual jubilation described by the Beatitudes.
To me the word blessed or happy in the Beatitudes means you can feel God’s presence, a divine sense of Love surrounding and uplifting you. When you feel this presence, you are content and satisfied—you are happy. We can feel this happiness, or divine sense of love, simply by reflecting God—by recognizing that we are created in the image of God, made for the purpose of expressing divine Love. Isn’t that what the Beatitudes are asking of us? They instruct us to seek out and express God’s tender mercies by understanding that we reflect all the beauty and goodness of divine Love, God. To focus on loving others through expressing compassion, meekness, and purity. In doing this we find peace; we feel true, spiritual happiness that we all yearn for. Best of all, there is no limit to this happiness!
As Pharrell says, “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” It certainly is!
—John Kohler, Brattleboro, Vermont, US