I chuckle when I get reminders like this.
But maybe this year I need the reminder. Not the one telling me it’s my birthday, but the imperative: enjoy this special day.
I’m a big fan of birthdays. I love them; more than I love Easter and Christmas. Birthdays mark special moments where someone became something out of nothing. What wasn’t now is, type stuff. Existence doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Not existing makes sense, but being born and living as we do in ourselves as we are, in all of our uniqueness and oddness and packed full with idiosyncrasies? Think about it. It doesn’t make sense. Existence is really incredible; the impossible made possible.
But lately existence feels hard, heavy, like wading through molasses. Enjoying a day that marks the anniversary of your non-existence turned existence, feels existentially cacophonous right now.
But maybe that’s part of the point of existing out of non-existence: the perpetual threat of not existing highlights the marvel that is existence. And maybe there in I can locate my enjoyment of the day: dare to celebrate in the face of reasons to give in to the gentle downward pull of the existential molasses I find myself caught. To enjoy even now, to celebrate even now cuts through the fabric of suffering with the revolution of life and love.
In this I am reminded (and encouraged) by some words from The Rev. Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz,
La lucha and not suffering is central to Hispanic women’s self-understanding. I have gotten the best clues for understating how Latina understand and deal with suffering by looking at Latinas’ capacity to celebrate, at our ability to organize a fiesta in the midst of the most difficult circumstances and in spite of deep pain. The fiestas are, of course, not celebrations of suffering but the struggle against suffering. The fiestas are, very often, a way of encouraging each other not to let the difficulties that are part of Hispanic women’s daily life overcome us. They are opportunities to distance ourselves from the rough and arduous reality of everyday life, at times mere escapism, but often a way of getting different perspective on how to carry on la lucha. Listening to the conversations that go on at the fiestas and participating in them makes this evident. What one hears is talk about the harshness of life. Of course at times it is a mattery of simply complaining. But often it is a matter of sharing with others in order to convince oneself of what one knows: that one is not alone; that what each Hispanic woman is going through is not necessarily, or at least mainly, her fault but is due to oppressive structure…Fiestas are a very important way for Latinas of not allowing only the suffering in our lives to determine how we perceive life, how we know, how we understand and deal with reality.Mujerista Theology p. 130
So, let’s have cake and dare to celebrate.