Triumph is often the result of achingly hard physical and mental work and one is often too tired to celebrate as we see the next crisis come barreling down the road of life towards us. The true and heartfelt celebrations in the lifetimes of my immediate family and me were in the triumph category until I was almost thirty.
My first personal celebration, at the age of nineteen, involved riding the killer roller coaster at the Coney Island Amusement Park a dozen times in a row, thereby overcoming my fear of the machine. I’ll never forget lying on the ground after my last ride, with an inner feeling of celebratory triumph. The paramedics eventually got me up and walking within the hour. I wanted to dance and jump. They wouldn’t let me.
As I write this, there is a smile on my face, as well as an inner voice shouting, “YAY!”
There were occasional personal celebrations such as learning to rock climb up sheer cliff faces, and also graduation from high school. These events, as well as the roller coaster, are still with me.
Then I got married, which I considered the celebratory highlight of my life. As the children were born, their arrival superseded the marriage. As the years rolled on, the children and their triumphs became cause for grateful and true commemoration. In 1973, I graduated from college with a degree in education and realized a life-long dream to become a teacher.
Most classes were at night and on Saturdays. One summer, when the children were old enough to be left with a baby sitter, I earned ten credits by going day and night in six weeks!
Teachers were hard to find in New Jersey because working conditions were primitive, teachers were considered the enemy, and the pay was less than $4,500. annually. But I wanted so badly to teach! Ultimately, in November of 1972, I was hired before graduation and immediately began to teach at the Upper Greenwood Lake School inWest Milford, New Jersey. This event now became Celebration Number One!
The official college graduation was January, 1973. I was so drained, and so totally done in from the long grind of mostly useless classes, that I did not attend.
Over the years, I earned over thirty Master’s level credits at various New Jersey and out of state colleges. When I matriculated at Georgian CourtCollege in Lakewood, all these credits enabled me to graduate in two years. Incidentally, I did attend my graduation from Georgian Court College in1993. In possession, now, of a Master’s Degree, My family and I attended, and I joyfully wore a Master’s Level uniform: a cap, gown, and a light blue, velvet academic scarf. The Bachelor’s Degree moved to number two.Georgian Courtrevived my faith in higher education because every class I took was a new avenue to explore. The experience was a true celebration of my educational goals.
So the decades passed and various of the more ordinary kinds of family celebrations, including the arrival of grandchildren, were duly celebrated. And then, about fifteen years ago, the greatest celebration of all occurred.
There were no balloons, confetti, dancing, feasting, or other people involved. No one dressed formally. There was no music.
Who, then, attended this happening? Why four of us: Father, Son,Holy Spirit,Me.
Throughout my faith journey, I had a most difficult time by often hearing from supposedly “good” Christians who told me in no uncertain terms my family, who remained Jewish, as well as the various “heathens” throughout the Earth, were damned to eternal hell because they had not accepted the Trinity. These same people believe ALL sins are forgiven to Christians, and they are not refused entry to the Throne.
When I questioned these people about all the good souls who exist, I was laughed at, mocked, and often shunned.
Through the good offices of my pastor at the Lutheran Church I attended in Phoenix, I began to realize the sickening bias of those accusatory folk and find out what God’s love really implied. During one course, of the many I took, we were introduced to Romans 14. Some of my classmates were shocked into sanity and regret by that chapter. The rest of us celebrated with thanks to Him.
The chapter, written by the Apostle Paul, starts off with words that resound through eternity and spells out in no uncertain terms how every person on Earth will, as said by the direct words of the Father, bow to Him alone after death, and from thence judgment shall be passed by love.
So, my dear readers, Romans 14 is and always shall be my eternal celebration of my family and those on this Earth who have humanity and do good for others.
After all, who is God? Why, God is love.