Celebration Report Week #6: Moving & Merriment

Yet another insane week! May has been the month that has tried for all its worth to tear off our arms and beat us with them. But I’ve learned a lot about celebration and community in the midst of the craziness that is really normal when I’m actually living life. I have to face it: I am more alive when there’s a lot going on. There’s nothing wrong with a quiet life, but at this point in my personal growth, when I let my life get quiet, it’s because I am becoming a more boring person. In my soul. Nobody wants that. One day, I hope to have enough of an interior life that that’s not as true. But for now, life is lightning and fire and long days and short nights and laughter and drinks and discovering gems in a swirl of chaos. Next step: don’t just let those gems swirl back into the chaos, but learn to hold onto them with the intense focus of theological reflection, lifting them up to God so I can watch what he’s doing.

Monday in Easter 5:  One challenge when life is this crazy is that I have no idea what happened a week ago. But Google calendar reminds me that Monday was my first day with a schedule full of absolutely nothing. Completely blank all day, save D&D in the evening. I started packing, then accompanied friends to our usual ‘bux (you are reading the blog of a proud holder of a Green Card; the kind associated with coffee). Some of us have already started reading for our June term class, which starts a terrifying three weeks from tomorrow. Me? I sat there with headphones, worked on the Pentecost shawl, and watched Netflix.

Tuesday in Easter 5 was much like Monday, but the celebrations revolved around meals. Lunch was fancy stir-fry at “the boys’ house,” as I have started calling our favorite bachelor pad. Dinner was at our house, where I made a fancy pork tenderloin in a futile effort to empty our chest freezer before moving it. But eating with friends is just… good. (Don’t forget your prepositions; Eating friends is not okay.)

Wednesday in Easter 5 continued the trend, with packing intensified as moving day approached. The celebration of the day was a continuation of the freezer-emptying exercise; baked bar-b-q ribs slathered in something from the store because I had no energy to make my own sauce. What, chop an onion when our book collection is scattered around my feet because the office packing has spilled into the kitchen? I wouldn’t just be crying from the fumes.

Thursday in Easter 5 was the biggest packing day. I was starting to get frantic, the culmination of which you saw in the last post. There’s just something psychologically disintegrating about watching your home, that has been your safe place in the world for ten months, slowly disintegrate into a whirlwind of boxes and piles and dirt and trash. Mercifully, I had a built-in celebration in the “Guardian Angel” class I teach every two weeks. (1st and 3rd Thursdays, 6-8 p.m., at Yarns Unlimited. 5$ to hang out for two hours and have any knitting help you want.) There were just three of the regulars there, but they bought pizza and wine, and we just hung out. I gave knitting advice and got gardening advice, and was even a little relaxed by the time I got back home.

Friday in Easter 5 was work all day, then come home and pack until 2 am. Thank goodness for friends with birthdays, because we got to scoot out of our cardboard hell-hole for a couple hours to celebrate our friend John over the first of many summer cookouts. We even got to hang with the lady who used to own our new house and is responsible for its many improvements (chief among which are an abundance of closets, french drains, and a complete absence of grass).

The big day was Saturday in Easter 5, also known as moving day. We did not get as many big vehicles as we were hoping for, but we got way more manpower (and womanpower… is there a generic name for that? personpower? anthropomorphised horsepower?) than we were expecting. With lots of breaks, and I think a total of four trips, we got nearly all the big stuff over in about five hours. We had everything set up to quickly assemble the entertainment system, so the day concluded with a bunch of sweaty friends eating Jared’s fabulous gazpacho and drinking cider, yuengling and gatorade in front of a movie.

Easter 6 was a 2-for-1 eucharist Sunday, at our own Grace Edgeworth and a church plant we are slowly getting involved in. In between was a little bit of post-moving moving, and some planning for the sad task of cleaning and repainting the old place. But extra Jesus, in the company of the Beloved? There is no beating that.

This will be my last Celebration Report, because next week the initiation of our Pentecost journey will take all of my attention. I have learned a lot by reflecting on each day, asking myself what was celebratory about it, how it was celebratory, and what made it more “legit” as celebration or not. Here’s what I’ve found:

1) What might be just consumerism when I’m alone can become celebration when I’m with others. I enjoy things very differently when I’m with people. After a discussion with one such friend, that might be out of my type of social nature. He insists that is possible to completely enjoy things when alone, too. But I think I am having to spend a lot of time with people in order to learn how to be with God when I am alone. I always thought it was just the opposite: you spend time alone and in silence to learn how to be with people. That is probably true for many people most of the time, but whatever place I am in life as a habitual workaholic, and a social learner who still tends to avoid people, the discipline of being with others is making my alone time spiritually and mentally profitable.

2) Food and celebration just go together, particularly in the company of friends. This is deeply biblical, and deeply human. I know many people have written books about this, but I’m curious about why that is true metaphysically. What is it about us as embodied souls that makes all communal eating at least a little eucharistic?

3) With those two things fairly built in – time with people, and food together – I didn’t usually have to build celebration into my day. (It helps that I have been wanting to be around people lately.) The discipline of celebration was less making sure I did it and more the reflecting on it and what it meant. Again, at a different time of year, or a different state of mind, with a different confluence of events, this might well change. But this was true even during those intensely stressful last few weeks of classes. Where it might take more scheduling is if I am living in a new place where I don’t know many people, or when I’m going through a sad phase (we all have those right?), or when I’m settled into a less season-driven work routine, and every week tends to similarity.

What do you think about the discipline of celebration? Is calling celebration a discipline a dumb and up-tight thing for spiritual type-As? What might that look like in your life? Do you need more of it, or do you want to reflect on it, or do you think you need more disciplines of abstenance (fasting, silence, solitude)? When are you going to try it? How do you celebrate when you’re by yourself?

Sorry about the lack of pictures. My good camera should be back in my hot little hands this week.

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