Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's My Birthday Precious!

I've been away from the blog for a while. I have all the good excuses: Christmas chaos, six sick children, etc. But I've become increasingly embarrassed that the first visible post here is about Duck Dynasty. In order to correct for this egregious aesthetic fault, I provide the following reflection by Henri Nouwen. This comes courtesy of my friend Wesley Hill (if you haven't read his book, you must) on the occasion of my birthday:

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: "Thank you for being you." Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: "Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished." No, we say: "Thank you for being born and being among us."

On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: "We love you!"

I know a friend who, on his birthday, is picked up by his friends, carried to the bathroom, and thrown clothes and all into a tub full of water. Everyone eagerly awaits his birthday, even he himself. I have no idea where this tradition came from, but to be lifted up and "re-baptized" seems like a very good way to have your life celebrated. We are made aware that although we have to keep our feet on the ground, we are created to reach the heavens, and that, although we easily get dirty, we can always be washed clean again and our life given a new start.

Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people's birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. These are ways of saying: "It's good that your are alive: it's good that your are walking with me on this earth. Let's be glad and rejoice. This is the day that God has made for us to be and to be together."

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