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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,

greg.


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