Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Birthdays in the Monastery

Why would birthdays be any different in the Monastery, you may ask. I thought the same thing before I became part of the monastic community in 1980.

I have always enjoyed my birthday immensely because my parents were generous with their attention on that special day in Spring. My Mom would bake my favorite spice cake with brown sugar frosting, and I could always count on a really nice surprise gift.

And yet, I feel that I had no idea how much more profound these celebrations could be. My first Formation community started to change my view when we were introduced to the idea of "person" days.

Instead of a singular focus on aging, we expanded our emphasis to include the whole person, that is, all that we are as God created us.

Concretely speaking, this means that the living group hosts a special dinner for us consisting of some of our favorite foods. Since I still love my spice cake, one of the groups where I lived called my Mom for the recipe and made that cake for me. What a delightful surprise!

Besides food, the group plans an evening consisting of a variety of activities such as games, guests, and prayers devoted to the special person being honored. Sometimes gifts are part of the celebration, as well.

One group I remember well gave "swell" gifts which were a source of great fun and laughter.

Another group I've associated with gives particularly poignant cards honoring the sister with words of a serious and complimentary nature or maybe with something quite playful.

On my "person" day this year, I am looking forward to old-fashioned chicken, salad, and pumpkin pie, my all-time favorite dessert, even if it is not Thanksgiving.

All in all, I am extremely grateful to be the one in the spotlight for one day, each year.

photo originally posted at:

No comments:

Post a Comment