We humans love a celebration! We celebrate traditional milestones like marriages, birthdays, and holidays or creative ones like Champagne Thursday and/or the first warm spring day. We enjoy our cake or special meal, clink glasses, chatter with guests, and ultimately have fun. We give little thought, if any, to the sacredness of celebrations.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, a significant Jewish theologian believes, ‘people of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state-it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions’.
That’s a mouth full! Basically, it means instead of living the reverence of celebration we are superficial. We focus on drinking or eating too much, and maybe even complaining about the work to create the celebration or the work to achieve the celebratory milestone. We may use celebration to relax instead of experiencing its heart filled significance. If we paused amidst the celebration to ponder Heschel’s words we tap into an experience that enriches us, heals us, and connects us to ourselves and to the people we love. Celebrations capacity to connect causes us to feel rooted and damn good!
Celebrating an accomplishment, a milestone, or any meaningful moment is love in action. This love binds us to others and deepens our connection to ourselves. This deeper connection to loved ones and ourselves gives life meaning, purpose, and grounding. Sacredness begins as we understand we are on the planet to connect with each other. This realization produces good feelings from a deeper place within us.
Skipping the deeper process and act of celebrating, denies the opportunity to create space in our lives to integrate a milestone or accomplishment. This joyful space called celebration offers us a sacred opportunity to inwardly salute personal and/or emotional growth, and its manifestations. Celebrating a promotion presents the opportunity to reflect on the beginnings of our working life. Maybe we playfully reminisce about our mistakes or chances taken in innocence. Or note how our working self has changed our approach to frustrating or positive situations in the workplace. This integration is important. It creates balance and shifts authenticity as we grow into an improved version of ourselves. We can consciously move within the world as our improved self.
Another sacred experience celebration offers is the freeing of hidden beliefs. Celebration’s joyful, loving energy creates inner tenderness. This self-love invites unrecognized emotional parts into consciousness. Emotional healing or deeper inner truth can occur. For example, a part or yourself that fears moving forward emerges to be released. This awareness shifts and deepens your confidence in your ability to grow. Or a quiet or shy part grows stronger as good wishes and congratulations are bestowed. These healing and evolving experiences make us whole. Wholeness is always sacred.
Owning our celebratory moments highlights the positive in our lives and the lives of others. While we humans tend to focus on the negative as a motivational tool to create or to succeed, the truth is it isn’t as supportive as focusing on the positive. With Heschel’s manner of celebrating we heal, grow, connect to ourselves, deepen relationships with others while drinking in the joy of a festive event.
Before your next celebration take a moment to reflect on Heschel’s words and what Eleanor Roosevelt believes. She says, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Mazel Tov!