Such beautiful writing…the “The Essential, Henri Nouwen”:
“When we speak about celebration we tend rather easily to bring to mind happy, pleasant, gay festivities in which we can forget for a while the hardships of life and immerse ourselves in an atmosphere of music, dance, drinks, laughter, and a lot of cozy small talk. But celebration in the Christian sense has very little to do with this.
Celebration is only possible through the deep realization that life and death are never found completely separate. Celebration can really come about only where fear and love, joy and sorrow, tears and smiles can exist together. Celebration is the acceptance of life in a constantly increasing awareness of its preciousness. And life is precious not only because it can be seen, touched, and tasted, but also because it will be gone one day.
When we celebrate a wedding, we celebrate a union as well as a departure, when we celebrate death we celebrate lost friendship as well as gained liberty. There can be tears after weddings and smiles after funerals. We can indeed make our sorrow, just as much as our joys, a part of our celebration of life in the deep realization that life and death are not opponents but do, in fact, kiss each other at every moment of our existence.
When we are born we become free to breathe on our own but lose the safety of our mother’s body; when we go to school[college] we are free to join a greater society but lose a particular place in our family; when we marry we find a new partner but lose the special tie we had with our parents; when we find work we win our independence by making our own money but lose the stimulation of teachers and fellow students; when we receive children we discover a new world but lose much of our freedom to move; when we are promoted we become more important in the eyes of the others but lose the chance to take many risks; when we retire we finally have the chance to do what we wanted but lose the support of being wanted…
Those who are able to celebrate life can prevent the temptation to search for clean joy or clean sorrow. Life is not wrapped in cellophane and protected against all infections…When we have been able to celebrate life in all these decisive moments where gaining and losing–that is, life and death–touched each other all the time, we will be able to celebrate even our own dying because we have learned from life that the one who loses it can find it.
Matthew 16:25 “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”