“Sometimes celebrating, enjoying, and laughing seem almost inappropriate in a world as broken as ours. We look around and see panic on the faces of everyone we see. Tragedies become ordinary. How, in good conscience, can we laugh and celebrate and eat pizza? I believe we must celebrate – because celebration is one of the most effective weapons we have against the darkness of our day. The real grief of the state of our world is the pervasive fear that settles in our hearts.”-Sally Clarkson, The Lifegiving Table
There is nothing to say that hasn’t been said. Most of us have read the news. We know what is going on outside our doors, with varying opinions on the how, why, and what. What we believe, whether true or false, matters little in the face of our current culture, however that doesn’t mean that absolutes and truth no longer exist. There is wrong and right, up and down, dark and light, and two plus two will always equal four whether we want it to or not.
Many evening during the week, when the chaos of the day has settled, you will find us sitting around our dining room table. I’ve been intentional about creating this end of the day tradition. Mindful about having the chores done and to-do list completed before we sit for a meal together, we laugh and discuss ideas and interests. This is usually followed by a game or time outside. Even in this refuge, this tradition and comfort we have created, a simple thought invaded this peace. “Why bother?” It doesn’t erase the darkness. It does nothing to push back against the continued tyranny of the day. The corruption of our elected officials and the increasingly sinister infringement on our freedom and our parental rights. How dare we sit and laugh and commune and celebrate our day while a pastor sits in prison, while people are suffering under lockdown measures, and attacks on our rights and freedom seem to come from all sides?
A fact I was recently reminded of is that history is writing itself outside these doors as well as within. Should we simply give in, as the masses do? Submit as the pastors, politicians, teachers, doctors, and families have done? Avoid our family and neighbors so we don’t get sick and don’t risk getting them sick, going as far as to cross the street when someone walks towards you (yes this happens)? Cower in our fear while we melancholically wish for what once was. Complacent. Docile. Submissive. Just waiting for the virus to disappear, neglecting the fact that viruses are simply part of being human.
Or do we demand the opposite. Do we march and protest? Demand our lives back? Do we live in a constant state of rebellion, or do we simply just live? Live alongside our community of like-minded people. Live freely and joyfully with our children, making the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in? Personally, I have chosen the latter, but nothing is ever quite so simple, is it? Things continue to change day to day and we have little, if any control over what our elected officials are choosing to do. Yes, with or without us, history is writing itself outside these doors, and I predict it won’t look back kindly on us. But what about the history we are writing inside the walls of our own home? What will we read, see, or remember when we look back on these short years? What will our children remember? What will we have written on their hearts during these unprecedented times?
If the past year has taught us anything, it is that we don’t know what the future holds. It could get worse, much, much worse… or maybe it will get better. We simply do not know. So we prepare as best we can. And at the end of the day, when our work is done, we celebrate. We celebrate because tomorrow is hidden from us. We celebrate because we have breath. We have each other. We celebrate because no matter what tomorrow brings we know that our hope and joy is not found in circumstance.
And maybe the art of celebration, no matter the season, is the best lesson we can teach our children. We celebrate to show our children how we let our faith spill over into action because we know that light always defeats the darkness. And we celebrate, for the very act of celebration is one of courage and kindness and love in a world that has chosen to instead be guided by fear.
“The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.”-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring