January was the month of birthdays here in Cerro del Coto. There were a total of five this month only days apart (and three of whom are named Maria…coincidence?). With that many different people, the initial excitement of being a new community wearing off and exams looming overhead, it would be perfectly reasonable for celebrations to be quick and similar.
But! They have not been, and I would like to take this opportunity to applaude my community for affirming a value the world needs so much. Each birthday this year and especially this month has been unique, simple, full of love and a real understanding of the person. How so? Let the examples speak. For one, some members of the community brought a bag of real potato chips (wow) to school with a fresh bottle of Valentina Mexican hot sauce (GREAT stuff) and Tajin (also Mexican chili) so she could have a tasty snack to share at school. I don’t know how many of the Spaniards enjoyed those chips, but it was wonderful to see her excitement. Then there was a special “pilgrimage” to visit Our Lady of Fatima, who I have confirmed IS in our backyard. A different birthday saw the most amazing gift ever, an “interiorization packet”, aka a Google drive folder containing notes, essays and excerpts that have helped others in their formation. Completely dorky and oh so appropriate for the information lover. There was a surprise picnic lunch for one whose birthday happened to coincide with a seminar she was attending; tostadas and a movie with dinner; and finally, filling the iPad of another with music she can listen to in the car. “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!” (Ps139: 13,14).
It’s the simplicity, poverty and personal love for each that is so impressive. We live in a world where bigger, better, faster, and more efficient makes things (and people unfortunately) more desirable. And with the recent anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in the United States, these celebrations are even more expressive. These birthdays have expressed how God loves each of us (“before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Jer 1:5); personally and simply, giving Himself to us constantly in the circumstances of daily life. And as everyone took the time to think about what would make a good treat for the birthday girl, one couldn’t help but notice the beautiful facet of God that she brings to our community, Movement, and world. The celebration of each birthday was a celebration of the ever creative work of God. “Give thanks to the Lord, praise His name; make known among the people’s His deeds!” (Ps 105: 1).