This is the message for all of us - to celebrate the life we have, the life we are indeed living, despite all of its challenges, imperfections, stresses and disappointments. So often we have our own ideas about what is good and right and desirable - our plan for how things will go. And then we consider anything short of that as failure. Yet, how would our lives be different if we saw it as gift? How often have you encountered something unexpected, not part of your plan, which turned out to bring about something positive - an opportunity for learning, growth or connection? These are God's gifts to help us grow more fully into the people we were meant to be.
In early March of this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to lead the special needs community at Christ Our Light, in Troy Michigan, in a Lenten celebration. Celebrate Lent, you say? That is not what we usually think of when it comes to Lent. But in its simplest definition, to celebrate means to "make special or honor." And certainly, that is what we do during Lent, and actually are called to do every day - make each day special and honor the gift of another day of life. While at Christ Our Light that morning, there was a level of chaos I was not used to in my usual course of leading retreats that challenged me. Yet at the same time there was this beautiful celebration of life going on all around me, a holiness of God's presence in the special people with me and the many who loved and valued them. Indeed, these wonderfully dedicated parents, caregivers and volunteers have learned to see these lives as gift, even if they were not exactly what they had planned.
To truly celebrate what we have, we must let go of what we hoped would happen. There is no room for both. If we cling to our plan without regard to the reality of our current situation, it can be an uphill battle fraught with frustration, anger and hopelessness. And then we will miss God's unexpected gifts for us. But if we instead embrace our current situation, trusting that God is with us, working always to give us the deepest desires of our heart, we can have a much different experience with unexpected joys. As you reflect back on this day, did you make it special and honor its gifts? As you plan for tomorrow, how will you celebrate the gift of that new day?