This particular topic has required more attention from me than usual. Moreeffort. More ‘struggle’. When I am faced with such an experience, I find myself becomingmore and more curious. It has been a long time since I’ve let go of the need for struggleso, when it reappears, my instincts tell me that there is an opportunity here for arediscovery… or reclamation… or a revelation.
To appease my logical need for data, I turned to the dictionary anddiscovered the Latin celebrare means ‘to frequent’ or ‘fill’. (No matter how hard we try,we can never seem to get by without the ancient sounds that formed the platform for ourcommunication. Perhaps there is more wisdom here than we realize.) Surprised, I foundmyself pondering what would likely be the ‘standard’ thoughts that one would associatewith the word ‘celebration’. Thoughts of parties, people, laughter, music, food and,usually, more food! Perhaps even applause and awards. Dressing up. Sleeping too little andeating/drinking too much! Images of people engaged in conversations with otherpeople… in pairs and in small groups… or even bearing witness to a stageperformance as one seated among the many.
The next thoughts that streamed were images of a small group… afamily… seated around a table, about to enjoy the fruits of the fall harvest. Smellsof turkey and pumpkin pie wafting through the air. Or perhaps visions of gently fallingsnow and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. Excited children straining to sitquietly – even if for a moment – as the unwrapped toys await the return of theirattention.
Or perhaps a couple, standing side by side at the front of the church,bold in their intentions and yet reaching out to gently touch one hand to another. Filledwith the excitement – and trepidation – of a life once journeyed alone and aboutto be harnessed as two. Long white dress. Crisp pleats in dark suit pants. White shirtsand ties and boutonnieres. And in the soft candle light of the church, friends and familybear witness to the coming together of one of the greatest forces in the world: the flowof two, standing as one, to create the many. And life goes on…
Small children at play. Four candles on a cake, with one small breathabout to make its mark. Boxes in brightly colored paper…with bows andribbons…piled high, each precariously perched, awaiting the attention of its newowner. And who can forget ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ and the strange places to which thepin would make its way. Stand back! Or you may become the Donkey.
Or perhaps that very first birthday. One high chair, one chocolate cake… and two small hands, delighting in the feel of gliding through frosting … andits amazing ability to stick one thing to another. Eyes wide, hands pulling andtugging…and – miracle that it is – the expert guiding of such a large chunkof cake into such a small mouth! Even NASA would marvel at such an exquisite display ofdocking expertise. Flashes of light from the camera that so lovingly captures themoment…to be celebrated over and over again.
That magical day of arrival. The birth of the first child…or thesecond… or the fifth. Even with repetition, the magic never fades. Each the beginningof a wondrous journey that will bear the unique mark of its creator. Timeless. Even thememory takes your breath away. It seems like only months ago … and look at them now.
Celebrations all. Each unique in its form, its structure, its offeringsand its intentions. Each calling forth a hope, a dream, a moment of gratitude. And yet,what is often overlooked in the small silence of its expression is that moment – orthose series of moments – that fill us from the inside and happen frequently, fromone day to the next.
Like a fine mist, easily overlooked unless you’re watching for it. Thesmile from the gas station attendant. The concerned and thoughtful questions of thepharmacist. The patience of the traveler behind us as we return from our daydream longafter the light has changed. The waitress in the coffee shop who remembers how you likeyour bagels. The receptionist in the dentist’s office who takes a moment to explain to youthat your dentist will be late, and offers you a magazine. The stranger in the hospitalwaiting room who entertains your energetic and restless youngster while you await theresults. The pedestrian who stops and makes it possible for you to dart through, justahead of the endless line of cars.
These too are celebrations. Frequently occurring moments that – if wepay attention to them and honor them – fill our hearts and touch our souls. Moments inwhich whatever we’re wearing, whoever we’re with, is just perfect for the occasion.Moments that invite us to feel what it is to be one human being, in our ordinary-ness, inthe presence of another equally ordinary human being, in the creation of a magical moment.If this is not cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.