Lately people have been asking me “How do you keep from getting discouraged?” I’ve been reflecting on this because not letting my heart get discouraged has often been a challenge for me. Life working with people who live on the very precipice of disaster, is fraught with disappointment. The key, I have decided, is in celebrating! Celebrating the triumphs big and small, the momentous and the inconsequential, is the means to encouragement.
This past week has been filled with celebration!
Monday a few of us, from Street Hope, went to the Grand Opening of the Sarah Tracy Centre. This is a place of rehabilitation for women in addictions. There were politicians and dignitaries but the greatest moment was spying one of the residents M. She rushed over and gave me a huge hug. I have known her for several years. She is one of the smartest (Mensa smart) people I have ever met. She has a tremendous sense of humour and quick wit but she also has a horrible life of bad choices and abuse which led to her life of addiction. The last time I saw her she was a wasted mess. She was thin as a rail and babbling incomprehensibly. Monday she reminded me of the recovered demoniac Legion from scripture. She was beautifully clothed and in her right mind. Six weeks in this centre had led to this change and I have high hopes that the next 46 weeks will consolidate and build on these gains. She introduced me to everyone as ‘her pastor’. It was a tremendous celebration.
Last night Linda and I had the delight of attending the 68th anniversary of the Allison Group, an AA group that meets at our church. You could not help but think of the lives saved from the shoals of alcoholism over that span of years! Person after person expressed their gratitude. It was a testament to the faithfulness of God and the fruit of what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience.” There was talk about the discouraging losses over the years but the joy at the triumphs filled the room.
Today Linda and I celebrate our 33rd anniversary. I remember standing at the front of that church and watching my bride walk that aisle. In that moment there was nothing I would have withheld from this object of my love. Of course over the course of 33 years there are lots of ways I have fallen short of the commitment of my heart that day but the commitment itself remains. In a few hours we will be off to St. Andrews NB which was the site of our honeymoon so many years ago.
Tomorrow we are attending the wedding of our niece. Over the years we have witnessed her develop into a young woman who is beautiful inside and out. Her family are experts at festivity and we look forward to yet another glorious celebration.
My favourite CD, of late, is “The Art of Celebration” by The Rend Collective. One line that plays over and over in my head is “Your mercy pours from heaven, like confetti at a wedding” I believe that the better I get at celebration the healthier I’ll be. This is not to pretend that difficulties and pain are real but merely to put them into perspective.