Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

They Say It’s Your Birthday

March 11, 2020

I turned 70 today. That sentence has a slightly hallucinatory ring to it: how on earth can I be seventy? I woke up early and spent time praying—mostly thanking God for the gift of these years. I have so much to be grateful for! A wonderful wife. (As my friend Fred said earlier this week, “We definitely married up!”) A terrific family—particularly three kids and their spouses whom I deeply admire and love. And grandchildren! Also, almost fifty years of very satisfying work. From the time I was in third grade I wanted to be a writer, and that is what I have been.

There’s a line I love in “Babette’s Feast,” in which the opera singer says, “Through all the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me a chance to do my best.” I’ve had that chance.

When you have been treated as I have been, it seems almost churlish to ask for anything. What I asked God for this morning was the ability to accept and rejoice in whatever comes next.

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” In my threescore and ten I have seen little sorrow. Perhaps—probably—I will see more. I pray I may take whatever comes as a gift and an opportunity, whatever strange clothes it may wear, to find in the remaining years of my life an opportunity to serve and honor my Lord and my God, who loved me and died for me.

 

Looking backward, looking forward

March 13, 2015

Yesterday I celebrated my 65th birthday—the usual surprise, how could this have happened to me?—and this morning Popie and I listened to Pray As You Go for morning devotions. The Scripture was Jeremiah 7: 23-24, which (in the NRSV translation) says of Israel, “They did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.”

It was the “looking backward” that caught my ear. These days I am aware of the temptation to believe (as the Israelites tended to do) that the best is behind me; that the future is full of stresses and strains that may build my character but won’t amount to anything substantial. At 65 there is a tendency to look backward with nostalgia and forward with your guard up.

But that is not a view that God endorses. The stance of the Christian is always forward, learning from the past only in order to lean toward the future. And according to Jeremiah, there is a moral component to this.

To put a point on it, the 4-mile run from my front door, which I’ve been doing for at least 20 years, gets a little slower every year, no matter how hard I train.

But there is more to life than my body–and even that, I’m told, will be renewed.

My Sixtieth Birthday

March 11, 2010

Today I turn sixty. A friend told me earlier in the week, “You don’t seem sixty.” I don’t feel sixty either, but does anybody, ever? Maybe when you turn seventy. It’s a weird experience. All my life I’ve thought of sixty as really, really old, and all of a sudden it’s what I am.

I don’t find it depressing, at all…. just odd.

Time itself is odd. What is it? Is it really measurable? (We measure the rate of processes, but is that the same as time? If so, why does waiting in line for five minutes take forever?)

What exactly is this stream of time that seems to carry me silently along without moving me an inch? What makes me different today from the me of yesterday? From that boy of 18 who told his graduating class that “The students of Bullard High School live under the iron hand of oppression?”

Not to get too philosophical, but turning 60 does remind me how little I understand of life—including my own life. But it also reminds me of how thankful I am for life. I don’t understand it, which underlines for me how little it is in my control. Life is a gift, and I think my greatest assignment, today and all days, is to be deeply grateful.