Friday, March 25, 2011


One of the charms of Facebook is how it announces one's birthday to all of one's "friends." The result is a lot more "Happy Birthday" greetings than one might otherwise ordinarily expect to be getting!
Last year, I let my birthday pass without any public reference in my brand new blog. That may have been the wiser course, but successfully completing yet another year of life does seem to warrant at least some modest comment.
When I was younger, of course, a birthday was more about growing up, moving ahead, looking forward to the future. At this point, there is obviously less future to look forward to. It may yet
offer opportunities to experience. There may still be accomplishments ahead. (I certainly hope so!) Even so, at 63 one naturally tends to look back more than ahead. I also can't help but recall that, when I entered the Paulists in 1981, 63 was "retirement" age. Not that everyone necessarily "retired" at that age, of course, but it did serve as a certain sort of marker. Remembering that, it still serves as a marker (even though the Paulists have wisely long since raised the age for what we now call "Senior Ministry Status" to the much more appropriate age of 70).

As a new pastor in a new city, I certainly have enough to keep me busy and active, and I have no interest whatever in "retirement" (however labelled). On the other hand, I'm not what I was at 23 or 33 or 43 or, for that matter, even 53! However earnestly I may try to respond to the expectations and fulfill all the demands placed on me, chances are I will fall short of what someone younger and more energetic could accomplish. The value society places on being young and beautiful is partly esthetic, to be sure, but it is also functional. If ageing is about anything it is about the (hopefully gradual) diminishment of one's strength and ability. Then again, as a certain
Secretary of Defense famously said, "You go to war with the army that you have."

That said, I think there really is something to the idea that there is a certain wisdom to be found in old age - not just knowledge (although accumulated knowledge of life has certianly made me "wiser" than I was at 23 or 33 or 43 or 53), and not just experience (although again lived experience certainly has taught me a lot and has definitely maked me "wiser" for it). There is also an emotional development that seems to occur over time as one works one's way through the joys and sorrows of life, its attainments and its learning to let go (especially that). Some things that seemed to matter a lot years ago matter less - and vice versa. At any rate, things matter differently. But, while passion is certainly subdued, emotion remains acute. The desire to be loved and to love is every bit as real as it ever was, but the ability to love has undergone development - for the better.
So, thank you to everyone everywhere who has wished me a "Happy Birthday," bringing together through the accumuilation of those greetings so many strands from so many periods and places in my life. Thank you to all those who have been a part of my life and helped me become who and what I am. And thank you, God, for giving me life and the multiple opportunities to experience your presence and your action in this world!

No comments:

Post a Comment