The Musings 24 by Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla
Read: 1 Kings 17: 7-16
Celebrating ones birthday is something very special. In this part of the world, birthday celebrations are done in the most unique and wonderful ways. You have friends and families throwing in a surprise party or you have families celebrating over dinner or movies and so on. Some people do not like celebrating their birthday or even if they want to be remembered on their birthday, it would be very casual observances or a celebration that is turned into a low key affair. It is in such a context of birthday celebrations, of Robyn Bomar became unique and different. Robyn Bomar was Christian and she wanted to celebrate her birthday in a different way so that it could create a change in the way people think about their birthdays and how they celebrate theri birthdays and other milestones in life. When she was thirty eight years old, she decided to celebrate her birthday with a difference. What she decided to do was to do thirty eights random acts of kindness, one for each year of her life. Some of the actions out fo the thirty eight actions that she did was, to hand out balloon to kids who had come shopping with their parents, to round up carts that were lying in the store parking lot, feeding the parking meters at parking lot, helping people in carrying their shopping basket and so on. Robyn wanted her actions to be private and did not want to publicize the unique way that she had celebrated her birthday, but her husband Michel convinced her to post it on her blog. This was not to brag about what Robyn did, but on the contrary to share with people so that they also could celebrate their birthdays with a difference. As her blog received huge response, she began praying as to how to proceed with this idea. Nearly after a year of praying, she felt God speaking to her and that is how The Birthday Project was born. The whole concept of the birthday project is to celebrate life. However, this concept of celebration is different. It is the celebration of one's life by pouring into lives of others love, warmth or any act of kindness that will reflect God's love that one has experienced in their life too. Thus through Birthday Project people were encouraged to think about their life and the celebration of their birthday in a different ways. The whole concept that Robyn wanted to stress through this project was about giving to others, which is only a small gift when compared to the gift of life that God has given to us. Now when Robyn looks look back on her birthday project, she finds that that more and more people are attracted to this project and they also want to celebrate their birthday's differently. According to Robyn she was also recipients of others peoples kindness and she felt that she also need to reciprocate it. Looking at the life of Jesus Christ, Robyn states that Jesus always lived taking into consideration the needs of others and she feels it is exciting to do and live life by at least doing in small ways acts of kindness, just as the our Lord lived in his time. Here is one woman who made a difference to the world because she dared to think an event like celebration of her birthday in a different way. What is needed also for all of us as we think about Robyn and her birthday project is that it is not the celebrations that are to be emphasized but the differentness in our celebrations that matters. The differentness that stresses the value of life that God has given to us, share that wonderful gift of our life with others so that they also experience that our life on this earth is blessed. In this way we also show and our Christian witness and identity. Thus through differentness in such celebrations, we are forced to look out rather than just focusing on us and that should be our objective of our life.
In 1 Kings 17, we find a very heartwarming incident between prophet Elijah and a widow. The passage reflects on how Elijah brings a new perspective about life to a woman who was on the verge of killing herself. This incident in the bible is very familiar to all of us. Elijah has already experienced the providence of the Lord at times of uncertainty. He has prophesied to King Ahab, the word of the Lord that there will be no dew nor rain for the next few years. He is asked to hide in the ravine of Kerith and the Lord feeds him through ravens and water from the brooks. But the brook get dried up and he goes to Zarapheth and that is where he a widow, who is gathering sticks. Elijah requests her for some water and if possible, some bread to eat too. But the widow dejectedly replies to Elijah that she would love to feed him but the issue that she is facing is that she has only a little flour in her home and some oil in the jug. Moreover she tells Elijah that she is actually gathering the sticks so that she can cook a small meal for her and her son and once she has eaten, she is getting ready to die. That is when Elijah reassures her that tells her not to be afraid and on the contrary, he tells her that she is supposed to bake cake of bread for him first and then make something for herself and her son. Elijah also promises her that when she does that, her jar of flour nor oil will ever dry up. The widow does as she has been instructed and just as Elijah promised, her jar of flour nor oil dries up. Here is Elijah helping the widow to look at life in a different perspective. She was always looking and focus sin on her troubles, her crisis and her suffering in life. But Elijah teaches her that even when life is tough and even one goes through crisis one needs to look out, focusing on the needs of others. Focusing on others, so that we are able to do little acts of kindness even when things are not going as planned in our life. Many of us think that we will reciprocate to others with acts of kindness when our life is secure and happy. But that is not what God want to teach us through Elijah. Even in our limitations, even in our handicaps and suffering, our focus should be outward and not inward. It is this perspective that leads to a life of fulfillment just like the widow at Zarapheth experienced. When she focused on others rather than focusing on her needs and crisis, she found a fulfillment in her life and solution to all her crisis. What God expects us is to live a life where life is perceived only by looking at our happiness, our comforts or our sorrows, but a deliberate effort and decision to look to others, to be blessing in others life, though it could be even through random acts of kindness. It was a random act of kindness of Robyn Bomar that saw lives of countless number people getting changed. We could also be another Robyn in making by consciously deciding to live life, and celebrate life with a difference.