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Celebrate LifeJuly 27, 2015
I live in a South Pacific Paradise, the Cook Islands, where people really know how to celebrate. This week, we celebrate 50 years of self-government in these islands. The dancing, singing and drumming, the incredible costumes made of local leaves, sequins, feathers and vibrant colors, and abundant buffets, contribute to the festive time. When one thinks about it, they reflect many virtues: diligence (hard work) and self-discipline in practicing, creativity in design, composition and choreography, love in the cooking and preparing, faithfulness to long standing traditions and lots of joy.
The question is, how often and how well do we follow this example of celebration in our individual lives? In our task-oriented world, it is all too easy after completing one task -- even a major accomplishment -- to go on to the next, and the next. We get so caught up in doing that we forget to be present to our small victories. We lose the precious opportunities to pause for applause, to thank God for helping us to achieve our goals and our dreams.
In big cities like Tokyo, Sydney, or New York, it's understandably difficult to step out of the swift current of daily life, where crowds and traffic move so fast, you can get run over (literally) if you don't keep up with them. But even on an island in the South Seas, people stay so busy with work, tending the family, meetings, and raking their yards, that we sometimes forget we are not human doings -- we are human beings. How is it that here in Paradise, we actually forget to stop and smell the frangipani?
In my Women's Devotional Circle, we all recently confessed how easy it is to fall into the habit of staying inside, forgetting to go out and look at the rising moon, or walk on the beach in the cool of the morning, watching the purple flowered vines open, to go out in the lagoon to enjoy sand, sea and sky, take the family out fishing, or play with our children instead of merely making sure they are clean and fed and get to school on time. Every soul needs time just to be. So we all made commitments to get out there and enjoy the beauty, to take a sweet breath of the loveliness that surrounds us here in the midmost heart of the ocean.
There is one important reason for pausing every day to be, rather than rechecking our To Do list or spending too much time on our phone, tablet or computer. It is very easy to go "out of our minds", losing ourselves in all the doing. We forget the virtue of Mindfulness, which is to be deeply present to life, to Spirit, to what is meaningful. Teilhard de Chardin, the Catholic theologian said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
Many scriptures urge us to be in the world without being of the world, to live soulful lives in the midst of all circumstances. Romans 12:2 says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
To develop a sincere intention to truly celebrate life, we need a constant attitude of gratitude. It is also essential to focus on virtues such as love, compassion, joy, prayerfulness, creativity, reverence, courage, and honor. Here are a few ways to make our daily life a celebration:
- Spend relaxed time in the beauty of nature.
- Play with a child.
- Nurture your inner life with a daily practice of prayer and meditation.
- Keep a spiritual journal.
- Do something creative: carve, sew, paint, dance, or garden.
- Do absolutely nothing for at least 30 minutes a day.
Psalm 118:24 says: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."