Building A Foundation of Feasting

I feel like you’d be happier all by yourself in an apartment in Paris than here with us. Frank and I were talking about this stressful season when I’m alone with the girls and he’s alone at work.

paul-dufour-500173-unsplash
Photo by Paul Dufour on Unsplash

My mind drifted to my freshman year in Paris when we would gather in my friend’s chambre de bonne at the very top of a building right in the midst of the city. We’d open her loft window, swing out onto the scaffolding, and climb to the rooftop with glasses of wine in hand. We’d sit and watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle on one side while the dome of Les Invalides glowed in the night. I imagined living in such a spot for a month – just long enough to immerse myself in all the quaint and beautiful pieces of Paris while leaving before the seven-flight trek up the stairs with groceries or walking down the hall for the bathroom would get old.

Frank nudged me and said, Don’t respond too quickly! In his perfect world, he would come home to the exuberant embrace of his family, the pack all piled together. In my perfect world, he’d come home and I’d retreat to an hour or so of absolute silence.

The reflective season of Lent has passed and we’re into the joyful season of Eastertide. For the next fifty days, the church celebrates Christ’s resurrection in this time before Pentecost. It’s a season of feasting and proclamation that Christ has risen, indeed.

We have two more weeks until the end of tax season and then our family will celebrate its own version of feasting and joy. We’ll head out of town to reconnect outside of our normal routines and come home to a period of re-entry when we all learn to function as a family of four again.

In a lot of ways, this tax season has been one of the hardest for our communication. There are a lot of unknowns; the girls are in different phases; I’m involved in different types of things. The only constant with tax season is that every year is different – what we learned last year may or may not apply this year. And so, we need to feast and be joyful. It may not come naturally at first and feasting may look different for each of us. For Frank, he needs to feast on proximity with his family; for me, I’ll need to feast on solitude in the midst of reconnection. We’ll need to be intentional and extend lots of grace.

But the underlying spirit is one of celebration. Just like we’re celebrating spring and resurrection and new life, we’ll be celebrating this time as a family again. It doesn’t mean that every single moment will be happy and picture perfect but I need to remember that the point of it all is redemption and newness.

How do you celebrate this season of spring and redemption? What are things you’d like to be feasting on after Lent?

The Lens of Celebration

In college, my group of friends was all about reading Richard Foster and Henri Nouwen. We would take retreats, pray the Hours, and share our favorite stories of Celtic monks. Living in Paris, the spiritual discipline I most longed for was solitude. Especially after reading Out of Solitude, I would schedule days by myself. Having a roommate, living in a big city, and being part of an active community meant little time for myself. I found a park just outside the city and would pack a lunch, bring some books and schoolwork, and go for the day, just enjoying the closest thing to nature that French landscape architecture had to offer.

Finding solitude in the suburbs
Finding solitude in the suburbs

Solitude is still a valued discipline and one I never feel I have enough of. However, reading through Celebration of Discipline again, now I am most drawn to the discipline of celebration. Without the foundation of joy, without the reminder that Jesus’ mission was one of redemption, all the other disciplines fall a bit flat.

I am reminded that at the end of Lent is Easter! Advent leads to Christmas! I remember that Jesus revealed the mystery of himself through the Feast at Cana, the Return of the Prodigal Son, and even in the Last Supper – something we view as a completely solemn event, but I’m sure there was laughter mingled with the seriousness. Jesus is present when we celebrate, when we take the time to gather and join in community.

It made me think about how I can celebrate more – to go beyond birthdays and milestones and calendar events. Reflecting about the discipline of celebration made me want to be the type of parent who has fun party supplies on hand so that we can celebrate the first hyacinth of spring, the last day of tax season, and a million other mundane celebrations that are only applicable to our family.

In a broader sense, I also wonder how I can celebrate those around me with more intention. In this spirit of celebration, how can I throw more dinner parties and brunches just because, how can I discover and celebrate my friend’s small victories?

Winter picnic
Winter picnic

Watching Bea interact with her world, I am reminded of the ease in which children celebrate life. She knows that the snow must be melted from her picnic table before she can eat her snack outside. No matter the temperature, if the snow has melted, she insists on celebrating a clear day by eating al fresco. Even the often redundant play of tea party after tea party reminds me that she is wired to celebrate – to have a party.

Thinking about how I read the news and books and respond to events, I wonder how things would change if I practiced the discipline of celebration as I connected with the world? How would I view foreign policy decisions if I read through a lens of celebration? How would I learn about social justice and restorative processes if I remembered that the root could be celebration? How might opportunities for redemption arise if I viewed connections and interactions through a lens of celebration? I wonder how much my world would change. How might a life of celebration empower me to seek redemption?

Maybe it’s the spring weather that makes me more naturally look for reasons to celebrate but my goal for this upcoming season is to follow through with celebration. I want to open my home, practice using a lens of celebration, and remember to celebrate all I can with my community.

Which spiritual discipline do you most connect with? Do you often stop to celebrate the mundane?

Linked with The High Calling’s theme of spiritual discipline.