Celebrating Star Wars Day

celebration cake and party hat against starry space - space image (c) Jacom Stephens / avid_creative/E+/Getty Images - cake and party hat image by suethomas from Pixabay

I didn’t grow up celebrating Star Wars Day—mostly because it didn’t exist as an organized holiday until I was an adult. May the 4th was just the fourth day of May. And, to be honest, I might be playing a bit fast and loose with the word holiday.

But May the 4th is a day of significance now. It’s a play on words, of course; that all-important Star Wars sign-off, “May the Force be with you,” so easily becomes, “May the Fourth.” And that’s a day on the calendar that fans can get behind and, in fact, have been doing so for years.

I love Star Wars; I don’t mind having a big moment every year when we all say so together. I don’t even mind the marketing side of the day, with its influx of new toys and TV shows and grand announcements of what’s to come next in the franchise.

Anyone who knows me—and certainly anyone who has read my book, My Life with the Jedi: The Spirituality of Star Wars—knows that these stories have played an important role in how I understand myself, my relationships, and my spiritual journey. And while I don’t think I’m the only one for whom this is true, I know that each of us has some story that has left its impact on our spiritual selves.

Maybe it’s Star Wars; maybe it’s not. But stories matter. They shape us. They give us space to find ourselves. We wonder what it might be like to walk among Jedi and wizards and creatures of myth and legend. How would we respond to the challenges these characters face?

Reverencing our own sacred stories is key to the Ignatian Exercises. St. Ignatius invites us to walk alongside Christ in a mission of love and service. Ultimately, when the Exercises end, Ignatius sends us out to love and serve God in all things.

But we do so having grounded our lives in story, both the specific, unique story that we are writing each day and the grand, universal story that God invites us into.

There’s something else Ignatius invites us to do at the end of the Exercises: celebrate. My spiritual director, the late Fr. Jim Bowler, SJ, made me write the word and underline it in my copy of Ignatius’s great work, adding it to the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love.

We love and serve and celebrate.

And that brings me back to Star Wars Day. Because any excuse to celebrate, any excuse to be joyful and to reflect back on the stories that have shaped us—the fictional and the all-too-real—is a good thing. If I buy a few new Star Wars LEGO sets at the same time, so be it.

I think a secular event like May the 4th can, in fact, be a profoundly Ignatian moment. It’s an opportunity to sink into a story that is, on its face, devoid of God. And yet, we know God to be in all things—and in fact, the world of Star Wars overflows with spirituality. Do we have the wherewithal to seek out God’s Spirit?

For those of us who are fans, this is a day to name the specific stories within the Star Wars universe that mean something to us—and to articulate why. Do we see ourselves in the redemption of Anakin Skywalker? In the struggles of Ahsoka Tano? In the shame of Obi-Wan Kenobi? In the hope of Leia Organa?

Finally, we turn to celebration. Put aside any cynicism, skepticism, or self-righteousness. Pope Francis often reminds us to be joyful; we don’t need elaborate reasons. Indeed, we are an Easter people, and so we should be ready and willing to celebrate the littlest, simplest, silliest thing.

So, I say to you: Happy Star Wars Day. And may the Force be with you.

Cake and party hat image by suethomas from Pixabay. Space image by avid_creative/E+/Getty Images (c) Jacom Stephens.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Eric. Great stuff. God’s presence in all things, in all places, in all situations, and at all times is a wonderful feeling.

  2. Hi Eric,

    I have always celebrated 4th May as an exceptional day, too, just not in the way you do yourself.

    My celebration is because it is/was my Dad’s birthday, and he WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL MAN. He went to Heaven 21 years ago, and he was, still is, will ever be, my hero.

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