Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Feasting for three days here...

Boy oh boy!

Do we ever love to feast here!

In the small French Canadian community I grew up in, a liturgical feast day was something to uphold and cherish, remembering what it was and giving thanks when it visited within the liturgical year celebrations. There was always a festive flair in our school, our church and sometimes our homes.

Feasting and celebrating are what families do together. Whatever the reason; a family milestone, something personal or nothing personal at all – find something, there is always an occasion to FEAST!

Oh, feasting can be a double edged sword because after all, feasting is joyful and adrenaline building, but usually surrounding it are fatty foods and laden calories. Today we feasted but knowing what was to come in our menu grand finale, we thought we’d better have something more nutritious first.

If you are the type of person who just can’t be bothered to create a feasting merriment in your homes with your own family, how can you possibly know what you are missing out on? Or, if you are so calorie conscious that delighting in the whole feasting experience will send you to the brink of wishing you hadn’t, relax, enjoy, be merry, and have a blast! So you eat a piece of cake or something else sinfully delicious. Big deal!

Get your fanny out for a long, long walk afterwards and smile at the memory recently created. Love these times. Indulge in creating lovely times. Mark them all on your calendar year round.

Never forget to make a memory – on purpose! And heh, besides - what do you want to be remembered for anyway? Do you want others to remember your complaining and lack of willingness to feast, or your good sportsmanship to make it happen so everyone will never forget later on.

Many times families take special feast days for granted. Oh sure, they remember them, but do they really REMEMBER the reason for them or why they exist in the first place?

I remember my first day attending a new school in Grade 8. It was a half day to obtain our schedules, our textbooks, buy our uniforms and find our home rooms. And then, the next day was September 8th, a feast day and the school would be closed to honor it.

In the Liturgical year, September 8th is the “Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, or in layman’s terms, “Mary’s birthday”.

Like other faiths, including a friend’s who is an Orthodox Christian; it is fitting to celebrate such a day. After all, this was a baby girl at one time who would have a great God-ordained future planned already just as soon as she gasped for her very first breath of air, a life to be filled with giving motherly love, offering warm and tender kisses to her wee babe after a highly unusual birthing circumstance, always offering encouragement as her young lad grew into manhood. She trusted in God's plan for her Son, do we trust God like that when it comes to our own children?

Are you a mother first and foremost, realizing your children are eternal beings and everything else we all might do on this earth pales in comparison. Mary knew this.

When greeted by an Angel, she simply said; “Yes” and continued on the plan revealed to her along the way. It’s a funny thing really - she had a child and he was perfect! How can we all relate to that? LOL I have many children and they are far from perfect. Some might say she did indeed have a sublime motherhood. But, on the other hand, she loved her son and knew the heartache to come. She endured severe sorrows as no mother has, nor will ever have in total comparison. We can only imagine. We have much to be thankful for, especially for the sincere privilege of motherhood and our dear sweet wonderful (so not perfect) children. LOL

When we think of motherhood, we think sweet babies first thing. I know I do. And then they grow up. Four of ours have already flown the coop; some have families of their own and are recognizing the challenges of motherhood themselves.

Unlike Mary we never knew of any specific heartache we might encounter over the years raising our children as time rolled by, (and not to compare ourselves to her) mothers everywhere can also experience horrible deep pangs way down in the inner core of our hearts because love runs so deeply for our children, so intentionally, that there are days when issues arise and the pain never seems like it will ever subside! But still, on the other hand, unlike Mary, we know she endured even greater pains than we.

September 8th is also a date which falls around the Labor day weekend, and specifically here in Canada many families we know never begin their schooling again the Tuesday after labor day per se like the schooling institutions do, rather they wait and celebrate the “Feast of the Nativity” first, and on purpose. Then school follows this liturgical feast day.

Celebrations from days gone by,
always cherished, always remembered

For years and years we’ve gathered to share in organized family activities with either a picnic in a park or at someone’s home, sharing and eating celebratory birthday cake together. It’s always memorable, always fun and always touching to see children belt out a birthday tune and contemplate who they are singing to.

This year we’ve secretly used the feast day as a wonderful excuse to celebrate for the past “three days”. You never knew a liturgical feast day could last so long did you?

First we took a drive after church last Sunday and in lieu of dad being home that day and not the actual date, we thought we would celebrate on impulse a day early, a spur of the moment idea gave way to purposely heading for the local ice cream parlor for HUGE licky-licks (wink).

And then yesterday we shared donuts and iced cappuccinos for more feasting while washing windows, giving the entire household’s window screens a shower to clean them all, and get quite a list of outdoor lawn and garden maintenance complete. I think the donuts and drinks were really “brain food” (bribery food).

Today we celebrated the day in an official way as in years gone by, with a cake, candles, and merriment. The cake was decorated in a fun way, with white icing to represent “purity”, blue icing symbolic of “our lady’s blue mantle”, balloons (what’s a birthday without balloons!), small gifts, streamers across the cake, candles to light and drool running down everyone’s frothing lips. This day was dedicated (again) to our heavenly Lady, but also to my husband (we love you!).

You see, when he looked at the blog and realized he missed out on our “Happy September” cake the other day, feasting seemed pretty darned good, but how dare we not save him a piece in the freezer for another day!

So dearest honey bunch (wink), we have a special slice waiting just for you when you arrive home again, and it will be at that time when we can feast yet again! Wink, wink…

Today I was struck by two things as I drove our dogs to have a great sprinting run at a designated dog park area with the children. First I saw a billboard at a local church along the way that read the following;

Please keep us open to;

* Wonder

* Beauty

* Mystery

Everything about celebrating this feast day points back to all three of these items; the wonder of her birth, the beauty of her vocation of motherhood, and the mystery of the Incarnation.

The second thing that happened was when I stopped promptly at a stop sign and seemingly from under our vehicle a bird dashed out and headed to the skies above. I thought it was a white pigeon at first, maybe a seagull, maybe something else? But it was an unblemished beautiful white dove flying gracefully above, taking it's time and making beautiful patterns in the air. I stayed there in that spot and watched it until it flew over a bunch of trees and disappeared. I smiled. And then I drove away wondering about the beauty of it all. The kiss of a blessing was near at hand bringing on a moment of wonder and beauty for sure.

Everything is so clear when we keep our priorities in focus. Motherhood is a fantastic vocation, a privilege never to be taken for granted, a gift (!), a career to uphold as something God ordained and most of all, a vocation where experience is not required, the work is tougher than one could ever have imagined before their first little bundle was delivered to them, but still, it's a vocation where the rewards are many and vessels overflow with nothing but copious amounts of grace and blessings.

I am a blessed woman. I am truly gifted with many vessels brimming up and overflowing in great abundance. I find myself fully immersed these days, deep in this higher calling ever realizing my purpose in this life. No one ever promised motherhood would be easy, though we do have an example through Mary's mothering to imitate. Unlike Mary however we haven't had the heavenly glimpse of what is in store for each of our own children as time presses onward.

I can only hope. I can only pray all eight of our children will all look back and realize just how much this mother's heart beats for them, bursting with love - no matter what.

Let us feast and be merry!