The choosing and the celebrating.

Celebration: to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc; to praise someone or something; to say that someone or something is great or important.


Perched on top of a hill—overlooking thousands of autumn colored trees—stood the church with open doors. We made our way, and packed in a room lined with rows and aisles of auditorium seats. In front of us sat a stage, clad in various instruments and bright lights. Behind us stood the people we’d never meet, sporting the new Rend Collective tees that many of us were beginning to purchase. We were stoked to be at this concert and just a small piece of The Art of Celebration Tour.

The opening artists, Moriah Peters and Urban Rescue, began the show. Even though all of these songs were new to us, we still found meaning and truth in the lyrics, and hummed along the best we could. It takes some major guts to do what traveling musicians do, and it’s always such an experience to share in that work with those people.

Soon enough, though, the moment we were all waiting patiently for happened: Rend Collective took the stage. Filling the space between the numerous instruments on the stage, the group joined us with smiles and evident excitement to hang out with us. Some of us just politely clapped. Some of us among the crowd smiled. Some of us were too just stoked for words.

I could write about the songs they played. I could tell you about the jokes they cracked and the stories they shared, and how we listened in total curiosity to the beautiful, Irish accent. I could tell you how I’d pick up the shirt I had just bought from the merch table, just to touch it, and set it back down on the ground. I could tell you all about opening my palms by my side, and how I thought, “Man, these words sound so much better coming from a stage than they do coming from my iPod.”

I could write about those things. I could kick out a few dusty words and tell you all about these details. But honestly, I’d be doing a lot of injustice to the night as a whole. I’m a lover of the little things, but this was a night created for big things. Big pictures. Big thoughts. Big voices. Big celebration.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

We danced. And we raised our hands in worship. And we sang along to these songs, and for the love of lovelier things, we had an incredible time. And when from the stage he laid out this idea of celebration, he told us, “It’s an art form. It’s not natural. It is something we have to choose. And tonight, we’re choosing celebration– Heaven is going to be the greatest party of all time.” And in triumph we raised our hands higher.

And somewhere in the midst of this chaos— I mean, dead smack in sound the clanging of the Jingling Johnny and the beach balls three times bigger than our arm spans, bouncing throughout the room—we learned about celebration. We learned about laughing at silly stories and picking fun at our own peculiar ways of doing things. We learned about wrapping an arm around a friend, and finding the rhythm to jump in time through all the laughter.  And when the confetti went flying, we stood in awe as we watched it dance its way from the heavens, falling to the rows ahead of us. Somewhere, as we raised our childlike hands, we learned about celebration—this precious, precious art of celebration.

Something about all of these things made me feel almost restless, and I couldn’t figure out why. But then like a perfectly formed sentence, it came: “I wish everyone could see us like this.” And I was reminded in a very real way that these fruits of my life that I’m trying to grow and pick in order to make awesome cobbler and pie are not always made with total seriousness.

Because it’s not always about the no; it’s the yes too. That sweet, sweet sounding yes. And on this night, I chose to say yes to freedom that throws my arms into the skies, and worship that makes my voice louder, and joy that allows me to absolutely love celebrating this life.

If I’m so stinkin’ excited about learning how to love people better and the way written promises look on the page, why wouldn’t I jump around and want others to join me? Why wouldn’t I celebrate that? Why would I compromise lovelier things for anything less than incredible?

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Afterwards, we milled around the lobby, waiting to catch a glimpse of one who had been on stage. We took the seats at a fast food restaurant and picked Monopoly stickers off our cups and fries. We drove back to our homes and campuses, and nestled in for another day to come. And when we thought about going to sleep, we scoffed and said, “There’s so much work to be done. There’s so much celebration to be had,” and we wanted to stay and go all at once. When we yawned and saw our tired eyes in the mirror, we remembered, “But I am still a small thing. A powerful, filled-to-the-brim with passion, small thing,” and brought the blankets to our chins as we drifted off to sleep.

But even as the night relived in our heads, we learned that although it had come so quickly, the leaving was a harder thing to try and tackle. That’s the spectacular thing about celebration: there’s always a reason. As long as you have the balloons and the streamers and the confetti and this bold desire to throw your arms into the air, it doesn’t have to end.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Out of all the thoughts I’ve had today—maybe even this week– this is the one that is worth all the gold: whatever you’re celebrating today, make it a good one. I mean, not the kind of shallow “good” people respond with when you ask how they’re doing– I mean good, good. The kind of good that transcends our understanding and pushes us off into the deeper waters. Celebrate all those things and those little prayers and promises that together weave this massive tapestry, brim-full of life and purpose. Find a reason to make your confetti-plastered heart dance with joy, and then invite everyone you know to join you. And even when they say no, keep going on with your bold, bold self and I promise you will change someone’s world.

Today, I’m celebrating being freed and absolutely overwhelmed because this story that lives in me is the kind that causes people to write books, and songs, and talk about over early morning sunrises and late night Taco Bell trips. And I want to choose to celebrate it every day for the rest of my life.

:: bm


P.S. Check out Rend Collective’s newest album, The Art of Celebration! Their eclectic sound is so unique and something worth putting in your music library. Even more than that, their desire to worship the Creator of lovelier things is challenging and world rocking and leaves my teary eyes so happy to have another day to create beautiful things in this life.