The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!
-Lamentations 3:22-24 (NASB)
It is so much fun to sit on the dunes with my long zoom camera lens and watch the birds walking along the water’s edge. Watching the pelicans in the distance as they dive into the sea. Noticing the clouds overhead that take the shape of things as they move slowly by. I love being a spectator from my perch nearby. Seeing everything up close, yet not being an active part of it.
The opposite of spectator is being a participant. It is equally fun to play with kids in the water, build sandcastles, collect shells and enjoy a picnic together. Being in the moment and enjoying life to the fullest with someone is truly the act of participating.
It occurs to me that we have a choice in life. We can choose to be a spectator or a participator of life. We can become fully engaged in our life and the lives of those around us or stand back, in the shadows, living life through other people, watching their celebrations and milestones. My husband and I made the choice years ago to be a family that celebrates. We make the birthdays, anniversaries and holidays special. Even the dogs get birthday presents! Carrying around a camera for most of my life, I have been able to catch big moments and little ones too, so the memories of our celebrations have not been lost or forgotten.
Occasionally, I hear folks describe their days with the words, “didn’t do much today” or “we’re not planning anything special”. I used to be one of those people long ago. We stood at the front door many times and watched a neighbor family pile in their old car and drive off to enjoy life by going to ballgames, the beach, picnics and camping. Even backyard barbecues were special to them. I learned an important lesson from that family. Seize the moment. When the day is over, it is lost. The young mother of this family passed in a car accident when her children were small. No time for goodbyes, one more picnic or one last moment. But I can say that family had far more memories to carry forward than some people have in a lifetime. And it wasn’t because they had unlimited resources or an abundance of time. No, they simply made an effort and chose to celebrate their life. To make something of each day. They learned that ever important balance of working, playing and praying. They made time for it all.
Part of being a participator in life is a way to honor oneself and the family and friends that surround. It honors God showing Him we treasure the life He breathed in us and the gifts He surrounds us with. It is true that health, finances and obstacles can keep us from doing the things we want to do sometimes or it can limit us greatly, but we can choose our attitude about our life and what we do with it. For example, a budget meal of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can be presented like a feast. Celebrating the first cucumber from the garden can bring a big smile. The dog bringing back the ball in a game of fetch can be cause for praise, kisses and hugs. Everyday things can be a series of small celebrations and before long we begin to realize that joy resides within. It is taking hold on the inside. It starts with having an attitude that promotes joy and happiness combined with the act of “doing” instead of “watching” that keeps many people celebrating daily life to a ripe old age.