Skip to main content

a beautiful (birth)day for a neighbor

i'm 40 now.  i've lived and walked and slept and played and sat and generally wandered about in wonder on this great earth for 40 years now.  i don't feel any older, of course, since getting older happens almost imperceptibly, incrementally, but just the number itself - 40 - feels substantial.  there is a heaviness to it.  a heavy roundness, like a giant teardrop, plump with weight, about to let loose from its grip.

but if i am crying at all about being 40, it isn't for sadness or aging.  it is for joy.  utter and total joy.

last wednesday was my birthday, but the celebration of my birth started before wednesday and went on afterwards.  i started with a party at my sister's house, with my parents and my sisters and their husbands, and all my nieces and nephew there.   we had pie and presents, and it was great to be with my family.  then, on my actual birthday, since we had a lenten supper and service at the church, the church had a party for me, complete with balloons and presents and a steelers cake.

i received lots of wonderful gifts from my church family, like dunkin' donuts gift cards, bags of doritos, homemade chocolate easter eggs, chocolate covered pretzels....are they trying to fatten me up for the slaughter?  i also got a beautiful gift bag, designed to hold a bottle of wine, but instead contained a big bag of prunes.  i also got a lovely cane with a rear-view mirror and a horn.  i got it: i'm getting old! but this card that i got definitely "took the cake," if you will.  look how awesome this is:

then, on the weekend, my family took me out to dinner at buffalo wild wings, then we came home for a delicious cake (white cake with hungarian chocolate icing) and more presents!  my family gave me a huge box full of 40 presents for my fortieth birthday, which was generous, fun, and completely unnecessary, which makes it even better!

one of the 40 things i got was this incredible mr. rogers mug, which features all sorts of great mr. rogers quotes, and has a picture of him in his suit.  when you put hot liquid in the mug, he changes into his classic cardigan.  best.mug.ever.

but even better than all the gifts, were all the cards, notes, facebook messages, and reminders from every chapter of my life of just how awesome these 40 years have been.  i was absolutely amazed to receive words of love and affirmation from people who have been a part of my journey in each decade of my life, from dozens of states, and even other countries, people of many races and religions.  i received birthday love from little old church ladies (they're the best), seminary professors, old friends, current neighbors, and people i haven't even met yet!  i heard "happy birthday" from a gaggle of colleagues (pastor-types), chemists, doctors, musicians, teachers, pilots, and a guy i used to work at a gas station with.  i sit here now, on this side of 40, with nothing but sincere gratitude for this life i've been able to lead.  what a gift...what a blessing.  each new day is another day to life abundantly, to discover life, to adventure into love, to meet new neighbors.  and so, while i'm another day older, and now a week past 40, i will sing along with one of my heroes, mr. rogers, "it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor...won't you be mine?"

thankful for the neighbors i've had, and excited about the ones i haven't met yet,



Popular posts from this blog


i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

thankful right now

"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart

"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley

i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity.  still, the bad news keeps coming. 

i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few.  how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing …