Besides celebrating our 40th anniversary last Sunday (Aug. 10) with food and conversation and stories and a slide show that still chokes me up a little, some awfully nice things were said to and about us in that public setting. Our children spoke generously and touchingly, and H. and I had the opportunity to give tribute to one another.
Later, we talked privately about the powerful effect this experience of being honored has had on our spirits. I find myself still moving within the effect of it, in fact, as if in awe, and have been wondering how to describe it.
Perhaps the definition of honor helps. Honor includes notions of respect, esteem, and fulfilling (or keeping) an obligation. It implies choice. It’s a gift to which the giver might give some deliberation, and is thus quite the opposite of flattery, which doesn’t cost much and is self-serving. Honor acknowledges the other’s efforts and, for the recipient, satisfies or seals those efforts. It’s humbling, for the good that is praised is lifted from ground that’s often been inadequate and failing. It provokes gratitude, affection, and further effort. At its best, it’s beautifully circular.
For the record, here, as we were about a week ago: