I had the urge to perform a random act of celebration at work the other day. As a friend was walking toward me, I suddenly wanted to shout her name out with great exuberance and throw my hands into the air. I hesitated because, after all, this was work, and that’s not exactly how one behaves at work.
So I announced her name to the hallway with less than the trumpet blast of volume I’d first considered and raised my arms—not too quickly—into the air with less than all-out enthusiasm.
She looked worried and said, “What do you need?”
“Nothing,” I said, “I’m just celebrating your presence.”
“You must need something,” she said.
I wonder how many times God and I have had a similar conversation without my being aware of it. I suspect God is always rejoicing in the great good news of our existence. My most likely response to this outpouring is “What do you need?” as if I had to do something to earn that goodwill.
I can fool myself into thinking I’m being responsive or responsible asking that question, but really I’m being a control freak. If I can earn God’s favor, then I am in charge. If, on the other hand, we recognize that God’s love is unreasonable, is always pouring out regardless of what we do, our whole world shifts.
Life is no longer about getting it right because as Richard Rohr says, “God does not love us because we are good; God loves us because God is good.” When we stop worrying about what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re free to participate in whatever God is doing, to enter the divine flow, to throw up our arms and say, “I praise you God for I am wonderfully made” (Psalm 139).
I don’t mean we have free license to treat other beings or the Earth poorly. God’s not throwing that kind of party.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Perhaps the joy he is talking about is the kind that would arise if we stopped wondering what we needed to do to be good and entered into God’s celebration.