“I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight“
– Foo Fighters, “Times Like These”
“It is healing and refreshing to cultivate a wide appreciation for life. Celebration brings joy to life, and joy makes us strong. It is the posture of thanksgiving.” – Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline
I had dinner with a friend tonight where I recounted the celebrations of the last week or so:
- My baby sister came into town. We welcomed her with a bonfire and a lot of coffee. I see my sisters so little, that the spirit of celebration reigns when we’re together. If you’re with us, it’s very difficult to tell if you’ve caught the spirit of celebration or if you’re suffering from a contact caffeine buzz–a side-effect of standing so close to us. When the sisters are in San Rafael, we toast with a drink affectionately called “Iced Rocket Fuel.”
- A good friend, who’s Hawaiian, was ordained at his church on Sunday. This man has been a very important pastor, mentor, and friend to me. It was an honor to be with his church and his family as they came around him to affirm his Calling. Hawaiian BBQ followed the service. Who knows how to celebrate like Hawaiians? I’m pretty sure God will put them in charge of Family Dinner when we all get to heaven.
- Monday night we had our own Family Dinner. My tribe here celebrated my little sister “home” to California with pasta and puns. Hospitality is a holy thing, and the gift is two-fold: Not only do we get the gift of the visitor, but the occasion to come together is a gift, too. We gain strength and cohesion as chosen-family when we are provided with a reason to pause our routines and be present with one another–warmth, joy, and power that outlasts the visitor.
- Tuesday night, we sent my sister off well. I had prayed before she came that I would be able to bless her with love and adventure. Adventure we found, but love showed up in an amazing way. My lovely housemate took us for a great dinner, and then another friend surprised all of us with a decadent desert outing. Few nights have beheld an experience of God’s presence and extravagant Love like that one. I started to get so overwhelmed by it all, I found myself fidgeting. Ordinarily, I would have collected myself by putting on my lipstick–my version of splashing water on my face in the bathroom the way people do in the movies. Something to remind myself that I am still awake, this is real, and that I’m still here. Not following the makeup ritual ushered in a new, holy ritual. The bare face became like bare feet: just like the ancients who would take off their shoes to walk on holy ground. Without my lipstick to fidget with, I bore the presence of that blessing entirely differently.
- Saturday, we celebrated a birthday with all our might. Birthdays are holy, and deserve to be celebrated with all that we have to use. I believe Birthdays are an important part of our liturgy in the Family of God. They are our yearly feast opportunity to thank God for the gift of that person to our tribe. Never knowing how many chances we’ll get to do that, I believe we owe it to God to celebrate people and the time we have with them with a certain gusto. It’s a kind of praise and worship that brings God glory and great delight. Pull no punches. With Christ in us, we must make much of our time together.
This last week has been a true oasis. I’m practicing the 40 days of Lent this year so that I could walk with Christ through the desert.
So that the radiating heat from the sand, which I hit with bare feet, can refine me.
So that my sun-burnt, freckled, bare face and chapped lips would still be called Beautiful by the one whose Beloved I am, who gives me reminders of His extravagant Love.
In this desert, I have encountered hunger, poverty, thirst, weariness. My heart has often been heavy with overwork.
But there has been grace! Worked into the liturgy of Lent are the Feast Days, where we are forbidden to fast. We are to feast in commemoration of the Resurrection. For two of those celebration days, I wore my lipstick and put on my celebration clothes (new black boots!). Birthdays and sister visits are no time for grim, bare-faced liturgical statements.
Red lipstick makes a statement. So much of one, I think I’ll re-name that favorite of mine “Resurrection Red”