Celebrating on our own feels a little empty. It’s something we do together with family, friends or the wider community. Remembering and rejoicing together. Human beings are made for connection. When we are connected we thrive. Disconnected we wither.
In fact we crave connection. How many people have you seen walking down the pavement, apparently on their own, but talking? I was at first puzzled by this phenomenon. Then I realised they were having a conversation on their phone. Keeping connection.
The French philosopher René Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am.” But that is only one way of seeing things. It tends to appeal to the clever, competitive side of our nature, the part of us that values separateness and superiority. It ignores our craving for connection.
How about, “Because you are, I am”? I only have existence in relationship to you. Desmond Tutu, in his book No Future Without Forgiveness, introduces the African concept of Ubuntu, one that is predicated on this idea of mutual existence as the very essence of being human. My humanity is inextricably caught up in yours. ‘I am human because I belong, I participate, I share’.
“I am because you are”. When we act on that notion, we become more generous, welcoming, hospitable, caring and compassionate. We put into practice our other claim as Christians, that we are the body of Christ. “We are because he is”.