Working at Canterbury we do a lot of parties. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Receptions, Award Banquets and more fill the Canterbury calendar. Celebration is an essential part of life and living and it is an essential element of “Home.”
Celebrations are marker moments in our timeline. For several years a few of us from my college days were known for throwing a New Years Eve Party in Atlanta. The last one we did had 300+ people in attendance. We rang in the New Year with music, dance, great food and a moment of reflection and prayer shortly before the clock struck 12.
There are times we remember with great enthusiasm. Birthdays and Anniversaries are obvious but there are graduations, accomplishments, endings and beginnings. As an Episcopal priest I often participate in a service called A Celebration of New Ministry with a clergyperson starts a new call at a new church. I have also been a part of a service called The Ending of a Pastoral Relationship. These services in particular are helpful in simply the acknowledgement of something new or something ending. They are designed to help us to recognize the current circumstances and can empower us to move forward.
Celebration calls attention to something and most of the time gives reason to applaud, smile and give thanks. Celebrating a person is a great encouragement to them. I can pull pictures out from my files and my mind of significant moments in my life and all of them had a celebration attached. I remember the people who came, the kind words that were said, a sense of accomplishment and a peace that descended.
As we journey together towards home let’s resolve to make life a celebration. Everyday we have something for which we can give thanks. Some days may be tough, filled with opposition, pain, grief, sorrow. In those days we look for simple things: a stunning sunrise or sunset. We may be aching because of a loss but in every breath there is a gift to be treasured. Every person, every life is worthy of celebration and each day as a gift.
In my life as I’m sure in yours, I have entered into some difficult and painful situations. The most common are tragic deaths of people who by our earthly standards die way too young. In counseling with the family as we begin to plan a service I tell folks, “We are here to do two things; celebrate their life and comfort those who grieve.” Even in death there is something to be celebrated: the time we had with a person, the fond memories of life shared. In doing so we honor and celebrate a life and in those actions comfort those who feel the loss most sharply.
So today, make the choice to CELEBRATE! There is a lot is life that causes us to look-up, have hope, smile and give thanks.
“My first experience at Canterbury Retreat Center was in 1987, when my wife and I were sponsored by Church of New Covenant in Winter Springs, FL to attend an intense weekend of Christian fellowship and study (i.e., Cursillo #52). It was an intense weekend focused on knowing Jesus more intimately through piety, action, and study. Although there was little time to explore the beautiful lakefront property of Canterbury, there seemed to be a special ambience about the ‘sacred space called Canterbury,’ which was being used to build camaraderie, Christian community, and church family. By the end of the weekend retreat, God’s blessings were evident in that beautiful place that sacred space called Canterbury and its notably picturesque St Augustine Chapel on the lake.
Several years ago, our adult daughter Suzy was diagnosed with Colon Cancer and began chemotherapy at a Hospital in Daytona Beach. She moved up from Key West to live with us here in Oviedo while undergoing this intense and toxic cancer treatment. At that time, our family attended Church of the Incarnation which is located at Canterbury; she fell in love with the beautiful St Augustine Chapel and its scenic lakefront view. One quiet morning at the chapel altar, our Pastor introduced herself to Suzy and asked if she would like ‘healing prayer.’ At that special time and in that sacred place in St Augustine’s Chapel, our daughter Suzy accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior. That small chapel at Canterbury Retreat Center will always be a very special and sacred place for this family. She died on 24 March 2012 and we were given permission to place a small name plate in memory of our daughter at that beautiful lakeside memorial garden at Canterbury.”
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