Today is Cinco de Mayo. If you didn’t know, it is a celebration commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. According to Wikipedia, it is actually “more popularly celebrated in the United States than in Mexico, the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture.” As with any celebration, it is a day of joy and festivity.
Joy and celebration are very important factors when something momentous occurs. We have to celebrate when a victory has occurred, when a battle has been won, when we have overcome some great obstacle. Joy seems to go hand in hand with celebration.
I’m celebrating today for a number of reasons, not the least being honoring my friends of Mexican descent and their culture. I celebrate also because at what has seemed such a long journey, I finally have unpacked my last box and have settled into my new place.
There is another reason I’m celebrating today, it’s quite a bit more personal. I had dinner with a friend recently and we were talking about Antoine. This friend had only known Antoine post-stroke. As we talked, I told my friend how much of a struggle Antoine had to walk and with the impairment of his right arm and hand. It could almost be torturous to watch him walk, swinging his right leg from his hip in order to be mobile. His right hand curled and arm so very stiff. A memory came back to me of the morning Antoine passed away. As he was trying to sit up and slowly slid back down in the bed, I reached to pull him up to a sitting position, and realized he was gone. As I lay him back in the bed, I noticed his right arm and hand. All the stiffness was gone, the hand and arm was as relaxed as it had been prior to his stroke. I realized he had won the victory, the battle, over his infirmity. He was at peace.
Of course, I had blocked this out because of the sadness and grief I experienced losing him. But here it was, back in my memory. So I celebrate his victory with sweet memories and tears of joy. I know God rejoices with me and Antoine over his victory and entrance to a new life, a new life free of pain and crippling infirmity. A new life to be lived forever in the presence of the Divine.
What battles, what victories have we won in our lives that we need to celebrate with joy?
We are on the cusp of winning a huge victory over this deadly pandemic we’ve all been living through. We have lost loved ones to this disease. We have lost a sense of togetherness because of the battle we’ve had to endure. We have lost many times of celebration because we couldn’t gather together. What a celebration we will have when we come together again. We will celebrate with joy the ability to worship in person. We will celebrate what God has done in our midst to keep us safe. We will celebrate God’s presence with us through this entire time.
It would be easy to look back at what we’ve come through with sadness, grief, even a bit of anger over what we perceive we’ve lost. What is called for though, is a celebration. Joy will be essential to our celebration. Joy over what God has done for us, and others. Joy over the lives we were blessed to be a part of, even though they are no longer physically with us. Joy over coming to know our God did not forsake us, and goes with us into the future we are being guided toward.
I hope you have a very celebratory and joy-filled Cinco de Mayo. I hope you can discover joy in the midst of whatever trying circumstances you may have had to endure. Let’s give God the glory in all our celebrations, knowing how much we are loved…loved without exception.
Love and Peace,