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Birthday Gratitude

By: John Dacey on June 16th, 2022

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Birthday Gratitude

Celebrating family life

A newly planted garden is a kind of rebirth of the earth – an exercise in stewardship – a small celebrative space where creation thrives. We planted our garden a few days ago. The seedlings appear so fragile, so vulnerable to wind and rain. We hope they will flourish. We watch the growth and enjoy.

As with all things, the garden is in God’s hands.

The summer months contain several family members’ birthdays. Not too long ago, I was sorting some black and white family photos from the 1950s and found some of my first birthday party (August 1951). Everyone appeared to be having a good time. I was the focus. I was unaware.

We have photos of almost all the birthday gatherings of our children and many for our grandchildren. Birthdays have this compelling element that calls people to celebrate. We recollect our beginning and our growth through the years. We celebrate our being and what we are becoming. I’ve noticed that the younger the honoree, the more overwhelming the excitement on their special day.BirthdayGratitude

At birthday parties, we gather, sing, and eat together. We delight in each other’s company. We share stories from the past and our hope in the future.

We recently celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, popularly referred to as the “Birthday of the Church.” St. Luke tells us about the early community, “All who believed were together and had all things in common;” (Acts of the Apostles 2:44). I suspect they shared stories and a vision of hope.

I think birthdays awaken within us a deep feeling of gratitude. We often give gifts to the one celebrated. Perhaps, in a way, we are thanking them for being – with us – growing and flourishing. They are a gift to us. Ultimately, we are thanking God for all the persons in our lives. We thank Him for the gift of His Spirit, calling us to watch the growth and enjoy.

The birthday cake might remind us of life’s sweetest consolations, how we are called together, and how the Lord nourishes us. “Taste and see that the LORD is good…” (Psalm 34:9).

The candles on the cake may remind us of the Spirit’s gifts that ignite our imaginations and enlighten us with wisdom. By the Lord’s grace, we continue growing and flourishing.

Let us pray in our families in the spirit of the words of Mary’s Magnificat, “my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Luke 1:47)

About John Dacey

John Dacey is a retired Catholic high school teacher. He has taught Scripture, Ethics, and Social Justice. He enjoys being in the company of family, reading in the field of spirituality, and gardening. John and his wife have been married for more than 40 years and have two children and four grandchildren.