Spiritual Practice

Larry, the Window Washer

Katy Steele, 22

I was window-shopping with my cousin Alexis when we heard a sound like music, laughter, and singing. The sound was so full of happiness that we had to follow it around the corner. There in front of us was an older gentleman cleaning the store windows and sweeping the streets. He was a window washer by trade, but I wondered if he wasn’t really an actor who had wandered off Broadway by mistake. We quickly realized that he was singing and dancing to the music from a pocket radio. The big-band music flooded out of his little radio into the street as he made full turns and spins and sang into his broom as if it were a microphone. When he saw Alexis and me, he waved as if we were friends; and the next thing we knew, we were dancing right along with him.

Katy and Larry f91166fa812011e1a9f71231382044a1_7

“Hello. My Name is Larry.”

After the song ended, he bowed and introduced himself. We were honored to meet him and thanked him for the dance. We went on our way after chatting for a few minutes; but I glanced over my shoulder in time to catch one last look at Larry, doing his little dance at the windows, singing and laughing as if he had won the lottery. In that brief interaction, I saw a clear picture of the life Jesus calls us to live, in which we “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18, NRSV). Through Larry, I caught a glimpse of God’s joy. God wants us to dance and sing on downtown streets and to turn everyday tasks into celebrations.

Rejoice Always

Katy and Alexis 532416_1857963215574_422832614_nI don’t know if I’ll ever see Larry again, but I will remember him. He had wise eyes, a gentle voice, and a smile that shone like the sun. He was well along in years, and yet he was dancing on that sidewalk, happy as a little boy. Larry didn’t keep his joy to himself. His heart overflowed with gladness that spilled out on everyone around him. When Alexis and I saw how much fun Larry was having, we didn’t want to watch; we wanted to join in. And that’s exactly what Larry wanted: to share his joy with others. What if all God’s children lived as Larry lived? I left that day thinking, We need a few more Larrys in the world. How incredible would the world be if we too rejoiced always, in all circumstances? What would happen if we stopped complaining and being sarcastic? What if we rejoiced in the Lord until God’s joy shone from our eyes and overflowed from our hearts—and other people wanted to rejoice with us?


Joyfulness comes from being filled with God’s joy. Picture your heart as a cup. Before the cup can overflow, it must be filled to the brim. Reading God’s word and praying are two of the ways we fill our hearts with joy. Rejoicing is easier when we are constantly aware of God’s goodness and perfect love. How full is your heart? Are you running on empty or overflowing with joy?

PRAY: God, let our hearts be so full of your perfect love that we radiate joy and draw others toward you. Amen.

Katy Steele, 22 , 22, is a writer, a Young Life leader, and a wedding videographer who loves Jesus and dancing for joy on the sidewalk with new friends.

—from devozine (September/October 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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