By Reverend Vona Wilson
Are you celebrating something this month? Take your pick: Mother’s Day, graduation, confirmation, baptism, bar mitzvah, birthday, wedding, anniversary, quinceañera, etc. Celebrations are important. In fact, they are just as important as work. But could they be considered sacred?
The holy practice of celebration is taking time to honor something significant. It is making a point to say “thank you.” It is recognizing the value of a job well done. It is taking time to eat, drink, laugh, cry and share in the experience of joy.
We are funny creatures. For some reason we forget how important it is to celebrate. We begin to think we don’t have time, money or need. We forget that it holds value. But without celebration, we are not able to understand work.
The work of going to class and studying eventually leads to graduation. The work of making intentional quality time for the most important people in our lives leads to lasting, enjoyable and meaningful relationships. We celebrate the small things, and it encourages us for the work to come. We celebrate the big things to honor the whole of what God gives us; we do nothing completely alone.
Celebrations strengthen community
I was an “adult student” when I graduated with my Associate of Applied Science degree in Paramedic Technology. I didn’t want to walk through the line because it seemed so unnecessary. I needed the education, not the fanfare. I was honestly also a little ashamed that I was an “adult” student in my late 20’s instead of being fresh out of high school.
I will never forget telling my professor that I was not attending graduation. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Vona, a lot of people have given their very best to help you reach this goal. You deserve the celebration and so do they. You can’t miss this; it is just as important as the work you’ve done.”
I had great respect for him, so of course, I said, “OK, I’ll do it!” In my heart I really didn’t believe him, but I trusted him. Something in the way he said it helped me see that my absence would not only remove a blessing from my work; my absence would discount his part in my story, too. He had mentored me through it all.
So I invited my sister, my parents and both of my grandmothers. How’s that for not wanting to celebrate? And you know what? We made a memory that we still cherish many years later. We were all blessed in the celebration: my family, the school, the professors, the mentors…and even the patients that ended up benefiting from my education.
How do we make celebrations holy? Here are some ways to begin:
For the graduate: “You have inspired me so much by your persistence, your work and reaching this dream. God created you with a good mind and you have used it to do something amazing! Well done! I believe in you and I will be praying that this educational experience blesses you for the rest of your life.” Another way to do this is going around your table to let each person share how the graduate has inspired them. This is a profound affirmation!
For the most important person in your life today: “I am so grateful for you. What I admire about you is... What I respect about you is... What I appreciate about you is... Thank you for being in my life.” You don’t have to have reason to share these words. And every time you do, you are celebrating the gift that person is to your life. Just do it!
For God: “Thank you for the gift of this moment. We could never have come this far without you. We pray this milestone is one of many that we share together because you are our Creator and you walk with us. Without you we can do nothing. We love you and we trust you, LORD. Thank you for being with us in the celebrations! Amen.”
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