"It looked like a full calendar, a world of events and to-do lists an grocery lists. But underneath it all, the month was a greatest hits album, a collection of stories, one after another, of the rich and gorgeous ways that God tells his stories through our lives. What looked like a shower or a dinner or one more night to clean up after was actually one of God's best gifts, worth celebrating, worth seeing."
-Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines
Yes, yes, yes. That's exactly it.
That's what people mean when they say "cherish every moment." Or "stop and smell the roses." Or "don't take it for granted."
All of this talk about "living in the present"? It's really about celebrating.
Life is about celebrating the people and the stories, not the events and activities.
This is exactly what Brenna has done for me. Her arrival into our lives has helped me to experience the beauty in everyone and reminded me to celebrate each person for the beautiful stories they are made up of, what drives them, what makes them unique.
Instead of seeing a wedding with the food and the music and the decor, I see the stories. I see two people who are making a family, who are pledging a lifetime together and the tremendous commitment that means. I see a proud father with tears in his eyes, and I celebrate this moment down the aisle that he has been thinking about since they placed his little girl in his arms in a hospital room years ago.
Instead of a high school basketball game, I see young people, each one unique and trying to work through educational pressure, cultivate relationships and find their own path through life. I see proud parents who are in the midst of those hard teen years with their children and who are doing their best to support them and to find the most effective ways to communicate and encourage them.
And instead of a birthday party, I see love. Love from so many people who want to help one single person feel special and celebrated. Beyond the stress of planning and cake-baking and decorating, there is so much love.
Before Brenna was born, I admit that I tended to celebrate events, not knowing how much I was missing. Now, I celebrate people. I cherish the stories that God has created.
And I think this is also why people are so moved by tragic events. Too often, we forget to look at the people behind the events; we don't pay attention to the powerful beauty that God is sharing with us. We see only the parties and the baby showers and the soccer games and the music recitals in our daily rush.
But tragedy makes us stop. We stop and we see beyond the event…we see and feel the stories of those people.
And when you say "I can't imagine…" a certain event or tragedy happening to you, I think you actually can. We try to imagine in our wildest dreams that it's us, and how we would feel, and I think that's why people are so moved, so heartbroken…because even just imagining the grief and tragedy of what someone else is experiencing helps us to grieve for that person. Just imagining what the story of that person feels like is enough to move us into action, to help in whatever way we can, even if it's just to pray.
There is so much incredible beauty in all of the people around us and the different stories they carry, and God is sharing himself with us every day through these stories.
Stop and reflect on the beautiful masterpiece of each person, each occurrence.
Celebrate not the events, but the people.