Today is my sixty-seventh birthday. I remember as a child thinking that anyone who was even 50 years old had to be REALLY old! Probably, children today aren’t that much different. Occasionally, I would be reminded of that from the youth group members who would tell me that they would never say things the way I did in an e-mail. Every so often I had to remind myself that I was old enough to be their grandmother!
Being old enough to retire was something I looked forward to for many years, and when it finally arrived, it almost took me by surprise. Where did those years go? My dad always said that time goes faster the older you become, and, as a young adult, I would just say, “ha!”. He was right! In fact, Dad was right about many things, and, as my husband says, “Our parents become smarter the more we mature.”
I suppose it’s normal to reflect on where we have been in our lives as we land on those time markers, like a birthday. My childhood was sheltered, but happy with two hard working and loving parents and a relatively healthy environment in our home and in the town where we grew up.
As I have reflected on my opportunities to go to college and graduates schools, I’m reminded now of my white privilege which provided me with those opportunities. There have been struggles especially as a female in what used to be considered a “man’s” profession as clergy. Yet, I believe I have been blessed to be able to work with folks who have affirmed my call regardless of my gender. Interestingly, the congregations I have served have all accepted me and supported me, as I tried to do with them.
There have been highs and lows in my life, just like in other people’s lives. I’m just a regular human being who makes mistakes as well as does things well at times. It’s a journey – this life of ours. We live in a challenging world, no matter what century or decade in which we exist.
I can remember air raid drills in school as an elementary student. It was the height of the cold war, and we had to crawl under our desks if the siren went off. That wasn’t an easy task; have you seen those little desks? When I was in my teen years, John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Those were troublesome and painful times no matter what your party affiliation might have been.
By the time I was in college, the hippie and flower-power children were prominent in the news, along with the Vietnam war. There were protests on campus, but I just never got into that. I didn’t disagree with the protests, but I didn’t feel strongly enough at the time to be involved in them. Yet, my heart breaks for those Vietnam vets who have returned home with such pain and anger. I understand it and am glad that something is finally being done to recognize them. It’s many years later, and we can’t take back what happened, but hopefully it brings a small amount of healing to them and to our country.
Our society today has such a mixed and jumbled bag of messages. We have confusion and a sense of despair in our country and in our world. We don’t know who to trust or believe because there is so much rhetoric in the news. I would venture to say that most of us don’t trust much of anything coming out of Washington, and the threats of nuclear war are looming again and again, along with continuing terrorist attacks, people making the decision to kill others instead of work out their differences, relationships that break up after a fight or disagreement, and so much more.
But am continually reminded that there is a LOT of good in the world that we don’t see. In fact, I suspect that there is MORE kindness, compassion, and caring than all the negative junk we see, hear and experience. Maybe it’s our job to make sure we are the ones spreading it. Maybe the change and goodness we seek only needs to be pointed out and demonstrated by those of us who KNOW that there is a better way in this life.
So, the best birthday wish I have is that we would learn to love one another (kindness, compassion, caring) and treat each other with respect. Maybe we could find ways to listen to the other person instead of pressing our own agendas. We can practice peace on earth and be part of making it happen, even if it only begins with where we live, work, and play. I don’t have a cake with candles to blow out, but my wish is a prayer for hardened hearts to break open, for truth and justice to prevail, and for all of us to do our part in bring hope to this world because we have been called by God to make a difference.
Have a blessed day!