How to Embrace Celebration as a Spiritual Practice

March 14th was Pi Day—a day that, in the past, was hardly worth noting. In previous years, either Max or I would say “Oh hey it’s Pi Day. Too bad we don’t have any pie.” and that would be the end of it. 

This year, we planned ahead. My husband wanted to try his hand at key lime pie, so on the 13th, he set out the ingredients on the kitchen counter and invited our boys to help him. I sat in the comfy living room chair as the boys squeezed limes into a bowl, showing off their tiny muscles. Then they crushed graham crackers, then poured and mixed and baked. The final product went into the fridge to set overnight and we could all barely wait.

Sunday dawned with cheerful “Happy Pi Day” greetings and the day felt long as we waited for dinner. The boys could hardly scarf down their meal fast enough to get to dessert. Our patience was richly rewarded with the first decadent bite into the creamy pie. Max declared he could eat just the filling with a spoon, and my oldest son marveled that it was his first ever key lime pie. My youngest, who normally savors sweet stuff slowly, shoveled his piece into his mouth. I enjoyed every bite.

“I think we’ve started a new tradition,” I told Max hopefully.

I’m not sure if baking a pie from scratch will be something we carry on through the years, or if this was a pandemic year exception. There is something delightful about choosing to celebrate something small, something that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but that brings joy in the present moment. 

We usually like to have a real reason to celebrate: a birthday, a holiday, a big accomplishment. But I’m beginning to wonder if maybe our lives would feel more meaningful if we were on the lookout for opportunities to celebrate. If we lived our days seeking out all that is worthy of celebration, maybe we would reorient our hearts toward joy, gratitude, and delight.

If we lived our days seeking out all that is worthy of celebration, maybe we would reorient our hearts toward joy, gratitude, and delight.

Adele Calhoun writes in “The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook”:

“God celebrates. He invented delight, joy, and celebration. And one way we enter into the divine life of the Trinity is through celebration. Whether solemn or exhilarating, formal or spontaneous, celebration can enlarge our capacity to serve God.”

Adele Calhoun

When I picture a deeply spiritual person, I picture someone quiet, wise, and restrained, with their head bent down in continual repentance. I picture John the Baptist in the desert, subsisting on locusts. And while plenty of spiritual practices emphasize silence, study, fasting, and repentance, we must also remember that Jesus himself said:

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

As if to underscore this point, his very first recorded miracle was at a wedding. He turned water into wine so that the party could continue (John 2:1-12).

In the book of second Samuel, king David and all of Israel celebrated “with all their might before the Lord” upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. In fact, he celebrated so much that his wife Michal mocked him upon his return home (2 Samuel 6:20). David’s response was to double down:

“David said to Michal: ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.” (2 Samuel 6:21-22).

Choosing to celebrate—even if it seems foolish or unimportant to others— can be a way in which we draw closer to God, the author of all celebration, joy, and delight. It can be a way we intentionally praise the giver of all good gifts.

If you’d like to embrace celebration as a spiritual practice in your family life, head over to the Free for You library, where I’ve put together a printable list of fun holidays to celebrate all year long!

**For the password to access the Free for You library, be sure to sign up below to get The Scoop, a twice a month newsletter filled with helpful links to the best posts and podcasts to encourage you in your journey of faith and motherhood!

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*Feature Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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