Yesterday a bunch of great folks were at our house to celebrate my annual celebration of my birth. I don't have birthday cake, I have birthday pie, cherry pie to be exact, and my longsuffering wife is good to me in this regard. We watched my hawks for a while, talked and generally partook of far too much sugar and merriment. At one point a dominoes table was brought over from someone else's house and I got introduced to the intricacies of Puertorican dominoes. It seems the simpler the game the more complicated are the strategies. This game is simple enough; only one line with no forks so you can play only on two ends, only using tiles up to 6X6, so there are only 7 of any one number, and usually played in teams of two for a table of four. I delighted myself in delving into the complexities of counting tiles and trying to anticipate other peoples' plays. In doing so I left conversations going in the kitchen and front room in which I did not participate. After all, I was the birthday boy, and I could do as I wanted, right?
Right and wrong. When everyone left at around 10:30 it took us another hour to get the house in some sort of shape to leave until this afternoon to clean up. The pounds of sugar are still clinging to my ribs. And I'd spent good bits of Friday and Saturday cleaning house and yard getting ready.
I guess such celebrations are as much for the body corporate as for the body individual. Yes, I could have spent my birthday doing entirely what I like to do, which would have had me camping in the wilderness and flying my hawks, but what good is that to the community? And I could have spent the evening entirely butterflying between conversations and making sure everyone got a chance to talk with the birthday boy about whatever was on their minds, but then that way it would hardly have been MY party.
Such is the spiritual life. We can live it alone, and indeed no one can live your life with God for you, you must do it yourself. On the other hand, a lone sheep is wolf-bait, and our ancient enemy will not withhold his assaults. Being together, balancing the needs of the individual and the body, learning to give and love and receive and honor and be honored, these are what make us individuals--individuals within a corporate whole from which we draw our individuality. Without the body there are no members, and without the members there is no body. So says St. Paul in I Corinthians 12.
So, yes, I'm counting down from 50 n0w and am almost half way to 45, but more importantly than that, I was surrounded by people who are important to me, who make me who I am, and for whom I can be who I am, and that makes all the difference.