By Sister Pat Kenny
In this beautiful season of harvests and sisters’ Jubilees, when we scurry to celebrate what is soon to slip away or go unnoticed, I am reminded of an early TV program titled “This Is Your Life,” hosted by Ralph Edwards. The focus was a person whose career was by no means over, but whose rise to prominence was deemed deserving of celebration. The host would recount anecdotes about childhood achievements and escapades and perhaps trace later accomplishment to lessons learned and skills sharpened in those early years. Honors and awards were noted, as well as challenges overcome. But the highlight came near the end of the hour when family and friends, mentors and partners were called from the wings to the surprise of the featured guest. There were cheers and tears. It was all so innocent—the simple joy of an opportunity to take time to applaud and rejoice over another’s achievements.
We do this when we celebrate Jubilees—milestones deserving of special note and providing the opportunity to gather with people who have enabled and supported those celebrating through their many years, trials and triumphs. We listen appreciatively and knowingly when someone chosen to speak of them walks us through a life well lived—and so we should.
In this time, so charged with doubt, fear, cynicism and mockery, when no one is spared the opportunity of being a victim of slurs, smears and fabrications, we fear for our reputations more than our fortunes. A slip of the tongue, a misinterpreted message, a foolish mistake somewhere along the way can all but ruin a life. We who are losing sleep and fearing the worst as we approach the November elections need to remember that, deep in the psyches of most Americans, there is still a desire to respect our neighbors and to be respected by them. The craving for truth that we are born with is ultimately stronger than the itch to question everything.
Everyone’s life deserves celebration at some time: the ones who manage to climb to the high diving board of popularity and accomplishment and those who simply dog paddle along the surface all their lives. The world may set a high bar to merit the big prizes but we, as individuals, can set our own standards for reward.
To make it a point to notice attainment, success or even consistent effort and offer encouragement takes so little time or energy. To find something in each person’s character or performance or résumé to admire and even praise is not a lot to ask of those who are quite able and willing to criticize and ridicule. It shouldn’t be left to those who tell the human interest stories on TV or the Pollyannas among us to bring a ray of sunshine into our lives. Ralph Edwards won’t be back to surprise celebrities with a retrospective tribute of their notable careers, but we can do so much good by just looking for the good in those around us.