By now, I am sure that many of us have participated in a virtual meeting or an online gathering. Zoom, What's App, MS Teams, FreeConferenceCall and FaceTime became household names when the pandemic began almost two years ago: people needed ways to physically distance and yet stay connected. Remote work and online learning suddenly became the norm as we were inserted into "Brady Bunch" grids on our computer monitors.
I wonder, though:
- Was life any different than before the pandemic?
- Weren't we already skilled at boxing people in and keeping others at a distance?
|How do you stay connected?|
(Photo credit: Brady Bunch, Wikipedia)
I was reflecting on these questions after participating in a friend's 80th birthday celebration this past week. His wife had arranged a Zoom session where we could gather to share stories, participate in a trivia contest about Jim's life, and offer well wishes to our friend, loved one, and colleague.
Jim served at my church when I was in school. Over the years he would guide me as a mentor and spiritual director. We have stayed in touch through Christmas cards, emails, and virtual reunions. Isn't it amazing when we have people in our lives who watch out, listen to, and challenge us?
|What have you learned from others?|
(Photo credit: What Happens When Young
and Old Connect, Greater Good Magazine)
Celebration of Life, for me, has occurred when I begin to recognize the different boxes I have created... for self-protection; safe-keeping of treasures; or to define and limit myself and others. A box is still a box whether I store memories or create expectations.
What I have learned from Jim and others is the importance of: (1) recognizing the human tendency to understand life by defining and labeling; and (2) letting go of these restrictions we place on life.
In other words, celebrating life is the act of being in the present and accepting the person who is before us: the person I am right now and the gift I encounter in you.
|When do you celebrate life's lessons?|
(Photo credit: Young Helping the Elderly)
As we walk together, it is the reciprocal actions of giving and receiving, guiding and learning, offering and accepting that allows us to acknowledge the gifts of Self and Other. Knowing that I don't have to be perfect releases me from one boxed-image of myself. Understanding that I don't have all the answers opens another box. Hearing, appreciating, and accepting truths you have learned frees me from a binary framework of Right-Wrong, Yes-No, and Truth-Untruth.
Jim described us as Pilgrim People: journeying together -- sometimes leading, sometimes following, and sometimes carrying one another. Whether physically distanced and remotely connected or being in the same room, the invitation is to reach out, open the boxes that surround us, and celebrate the gifts we discover.
What do you celebrate today? What lessons have you learned and are willing to share?
Happy 80th Birthday, Jim! And Happy 6th Anniversary of this blog!
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