The David Bowie song “Changes” has been in my head for the past few weeks as we have been moving into the monthly theme of Change. (“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!”) One of the lyrics is, “turn and face the strange.” I thought, “Gosh, that would be a great sermon title!” I mean consider how disorienting change can be sometimes! Change seems to make life strange for a while. This time change has confused my internal clock about what time is appropriate to go to bed. Climate change has confused the trees with 80 degree weather in November. Changes in relationships can leave us feeling lost. And aging is definitely no joke.
Another of my favorite musical artists, Ani DiFranco, wrote a lyric, “We never see things changing; we only see them ending.” It’s so common to feel the slump of an ending when things are simply shifting and changing. I have an example. The other day, I found a white hair on my head and squealed in excitement. It’s my first white hair and I have always wanted to go gray early like my Aunt Aileen. It felt like I had arrived at a new stage of adulthood. A dear friend of mine found her first gray in the last year and could not have had a more opposite response. She immediately dyed it and said she would continue doing so until further notice. My new stage was the end of an era for her. It’s all about perspective.
If we are meant to turn and face the strange, perhaps it means that we must face the change like we are facing our fears. “Holding Change” author adrienne maree brown insists that we create a “culture of celebration” and “pivot toward pleasure” as often as possible. Take that confusion and dress it up. Take that lost feeling out for coffee. Take your disappointment or rage and find its release valve by giving it an outlet. Turn the strange back into the ordinary and befriend it. Maybe even celebrate it in some way.
I certainly don’t mean to make light of a serious climate crisis or a tragic loss. However, I do believe that there is something about creating a culture of celebration around what we still have. Memorial services are built to surround the living in love and support, even being entitled celebrations of life at times. The more I mourn for the planet, the more I want to be outside enjoying it. Celebration is still alive even in the midst of strangeness or sadness.
I think James Baldwin was right when he wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We can’t stop gray hairs from coming in, but we can face the grays, and in my humble opinion, we should celebrate them.