Jean Vanier says that “celebration is first and foremost a song of gratitude, a thanksgiving. We are not alone. We are all part of the same body and there is no longer any rivalry or competition. We are together in unity and love.”1 His words reflect our aspirations for the communities we serve. There are opportunities every day to celebrate those within our network of friends and family.
In the Tierra Vida community, we seize any opportunity to celebrate – be it a birthday, promotion, accomplishment, or a departure. These events happen all the time, during which those present take turns honoring a person. As each person speaks, they are sharing an expression of joy for the honoree’s existence.
For the uninitiated, these moments can feel uncomfortable. Expressing feelings about a colleague, friend or family member in public is not a customary act and can leave one feeling vulnerable – just the type of situation our society teaches us to avoid!
Last month, we took the time to celebrate baby Abigail Marie Fhyr as she made her grand entrance into this community. Given the pandemic, it was not the way we generally celebrate, but parents, John and Dena, were able to see how much love and support there was for them in the community. Those attending took turns publicly expressing their hopes and blessings for this new community member.
As Jean Vanier explains, these and similar acts express the ultimate purpose of humanity. We are made for communion and celebration, for the joy and the blossoming of every person. At the baby shower, John shared how grateful he was for this community. “We are blessed to live in a community that represents God’s love! A place people come together, through tough times like covid-19!” Of note as well, was the joy in the face of those who took part of such life-giving event.
Love makes us vulnerable, but there in that place is also an opportunity for true connection to others – something unattainable if words are left unsaid. Humanity’s riches are not made up of money or possessions, but in loving and united hearts, where community supports each other in “thanksgiving.”