This post was meant for the 31st of March. That day was my birthday. But a lot happened on the day that these words found themselves bruised and bleeding on a page. They found their way to the bottom of the pile, the dusty and grungy bit of neglect. I picked them up last night and felt a sense of sorrow at lost moments and opportunities. How do we redeem the time? How do I redeem the time?
I am not very good at celebrating things. I can do reflections, gratitude and pulling together life lessons. And I can do them with my eyes closed. But celebration is hard for me.
I am a blessed girl. Even more than I realise or care to acknowledge. God breathes into my life and where-ever God is there are things there that we humans try to find in all our striving for money, love, fame, recognition and significance. And strove I have. I am grateful that He even allows me to come near Him. That I have this treasure in this my earthen vessel, my greatest possession whether I admit it or not. On the days when I can see it clearly and on the days I walk around in a fog.
I am alive. I am here. And before me is not an inviting blank page – more than 30 years of life means I come with baggage, collected from everything that has come into contact with me. But I do see this vast open space in front of me, an opportunity to make choices that are beautiful and life-sustaining, choices that allow me to serve and do all things with great love as my best friend would say.
We have to be honest about something: life is a difficult journey. So it is easy to forget that we are very privileged in being alive and having the chance to come into our own. And this is the thing about birthdays – there is always the hope that maturity and confidence in who we are awaits on the other side. But birthdays don’t suddenly make us nice people or mature people. I have learned this is a process. It takes time and effort. We get there because of that step we took at A. And that, I’m seeing is worth honour, value and celebration.
Celebrate was the key word in the birthday messages I received this year.
“Be happy today and celebrate your very valuable and special life”
“Celebrate just living”
“I wish I was there to celebrate with you”
Whenever the word was spoken, my heart did this funny thing – it wanted to grab hold and flee at the same time. There is something there. I know it. And I sense it with every fibre in my being. And so I’m going to let this word celebrate infuse my life for the next 365 days, to get comfortable with it that I can intimately know its ins and outs, all its lines and contours.
I come from ancestors who are expert celebrators, who ululate at weddings and graduations. Their voices echo as though pulling from deep things buried within the soul. They give praise easily and receive it with grace, in a spirit of sharing and community. It goes around. It comes around. So why do I hang my head low as though the same heart is not beating in my chest, as though the same blood is not pumping in my veins?
There is an art to celebration and as in all art forms, there is a level of courage needed. It takes courage to be exposed, to not be cynical in the world, to see way beyond the big, giant swell of pain we pass around to each other. To see it and face it without losing the tenderness of our hearts. That is what celebration is – the ability to honour with joy the good things as they happen to us and to others even amidst the jungle of not so good things.
It starts simply, no props and no tools. Recognition and gratitude, it starts here. I have these in spades so why do I still move through life as though I were scared to be happy?
Because joy makes me uncomfortable. It is like that boy in 5th grade who I thought of everyday but always ran away from. I am not entirely settled within his body, within joy’s body. I tug and pull at the loose ends trying to escape. The human thing is that we are afraid of joy because we are taught to dress rehearse for tragedy. The God thing is that “until we can tolerate vulnerability, joy will always bring a fear of loss.”
We start here. In acknowledging and unwrapping this part of our hearts that is fearful. We start here in vulnerably asking:
How do we celebrate the value in our lives?
How do we celebrate other people and the value in their lives?
How do we celebrate our work and the gifts we have?
How do we celebrate the daily hustle of living?
Maybe I will have answers to these questions at the end of the year. Maybe not. But most importantly, I will be the girl who listened to life’s prompting. I will be the girl who gave celebration a chance.