It’s the end of the semester where I teach, and while there are many goodbyes, there are also many invitations. There are invitations to the final meetings for student organizations; to formal dinners to celebrate particular campus groups; a sudden flurry of invitations to lunch with colleagues whom I have been meaning to see all semester; an invitation to celebrate a retirement; and then, of course, graduation. I recently hosted 20 students from one of my classes for brunch at my house, and while it was tight quarters, I was delighted to celebrate a yearlong class with students before we part ways—at least for now. There are so many invitations this semester that I cannot possibly attend all of the events, but their plenitude reminds me to be grateful of the plenitude of care and community in the places that I work and live.
This Easter, I decided to be intentional about celebrating the full Easter season—not only the Octave but the whole season, right up to Pentecost. This was easier at the beginning, when the initial joy of Easter was apparent in all the flowers at church and at home, and when we celebrated my son’s Confirmation. Celebrating Easter several weeks in is a little more challenging—especially if one does not want to, say, take on all the calories that would result from 50 days of cake—but I’ve tried to keep the spirit of Easter present.
The recent flurry of invitations reminded me of a friend who once said that God’s invitations are plentiful, but we often do not even notice how many God is constantly extending to us. Today, halfway into a day of teaching, I’ve already been invited to:
- appreciate that my husband brought me a cup of coffee and offered a hug;
- be thankful for the sunshine;
- accept a delicious sandwich at a luncheon;
- smile at a student who smiled at me; and
- notice the pretty line up of blossoming pink tulips on the way in to Mass.
I have been thinking about continuing to celebrate these final days of Easter by considering the question: Where are the invitations? In particular, I am asking each day: Am I attentive to God’s invitations? Do I take them up responsively? Do I express gratitude to God and to others for the gifts received?
These three attitudes—attentiveness, responsiveness, and gratitude—are all ways that can guide us through Easter and all the way into Pentecost, when we are invited to take up God’s mission as people who have received the Holy Spirit. Then we go out and offer our own invitations to and along with others.