July 6     

Today's quotation:

People of our time are losing the power of celebration.  Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained.  Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation.  To be entertained is a passive state-- it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle. . . . Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Today's Meditation:

Many of us find celebration difficult.  After all, we're constantly advised not to celebrate success too soon, because things may go wrong later.  We see athletes celebrate their victories too early and drop their guard, allowing the other team to score the winning points.  We see businesses celebrate success one year only to file for bankruptcy a year later.

Celebration, though, can be an important part of who we are.  Celebrations are a form of gratitude and appreciation, and they reflect mindfulness of our current situations.  They can make us feel better about who we are and what we've done; they can actually be the light at the end of the tunnel towards which we're working.  We never see any tangible results of many of the things we do, and a celebration can help us to be mindful of our accomplishments.

We do see many "celebrations" that truly aren't legitimate.  We often give awards and throw parties for the least of our accomplishments, celebrating achievements that are dubious, at best.  When we do this (and I'll skip the specific examples I can think of), we diminish the importance of the things that truly merit celebration.

It's important to celebrate our achievements, and it's important to celebrate simply being alive, having enough air to breathe and water to drink.  To be honest, though, when I wake up in the morning, my first thought isn't about celebrating a new day-- I have to make a conscious effort to celebrate.  And that celebration doesn't have to be a spectacle or a party-- it can be a simple giving of thanks, alone, anywhere I happen to be.  It can be a shared cup of coffee or glass of wine with a friend.  It can be a party with our family or co-workers.  Very often people aren't willing to stop and celebrate, though-- we're more likely to move on to the next thing without sharing the joy and sense of achievement and appreciation for life.

Questions to consider:

Why is celebrating so difficult for so many?  What keeps us from doing so?

What kinds of things can you think of right now that are worth celebrating?

What kinds of things do we celebrate that may not be truly worth the effort of celebration?

For further thought:

Celebration is a kind of food we all need in our lives, and each individual brings a special recipe or offering, so that together we will make a great feast.  Celebration is a human need that we must not, and can not, deny.  It is richer and fuller when many work and then celebrate together.

Corita Kent and Jan Steward

more on celebration



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