Last night, Dennis turned 40, ("the big 4-0", he proudly announced to everyone he happened upon) and celebrated his 15th anniversary as a member of L'Arche Cape Breton. Faithful to his loves, the day was built around food and people. 22 of us went out to the local greasy spoon, where Dennis' excitement level nearly prevented him from finishing his meal, he was just so full of chatter and questions. Then back to the Lodge where dozens of people waited to wish him well and celebrate with him. We watched a movie that Silas had made for him, full of music and good wishes from friends and old pictures of Dennis. Next, Maria arrived with two authentic German black forest cakes and the day was complete.
All day, Dennis was so happy, so thrilled with the plans and the menu and the possibility of cards and presents. It was good to see him full of smiles and laughter and glee. But what was even nicer was to see how touched, how emotionally moved, he was by the movie and the nice words and love of so many people that filled that film. That softer, gentler side of Dennis is one we rarely see, but it is so much a part of who he is.
Everyone deserves to be celebrated. When we make the time to give thanks for each person, we often see parts of them we would otherwise miss. We can get to know people in new ways - their beauty is revealed to us. For people with disabilities, who are so seldom celebrated, these times of gratitude and celebration are essential, not just for them but for the world that is so in need of their contribution.