Today is my birthday. Birth. Day. I am grateful for the many people who have contributed to my life. Friends. Family. Parents. Grandparents. Children. Grandchild. Spouse. Dogs. And yes, churches.
On this day of my birth I’m aware that every moment of my life has poured into my ever becoming being, that nothing has been wasted, that everything I am today is a composite of my past, except for the continuous golden thread that I follow with my index finger and thumb into the future and which leads me to embrace something new and meaningful and beautiful in the world.
On this day of my birth I recognize again that the woman who gave birth to me is no longer here. And like so many of you, sometimes I feel like a motherless child, and that’s not necessarily a bad feeling, it’s just a feeling.
On this day of my birth I think of those people I have loved but who are no longer in my life, people who have made the great and inevitable passage from one world to another. What do they know? What do they see? I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.
On this day of my birth I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook / Phones / Texts / Emails / and a few cards in the mail have created for me a personal — It’s a Wonderful Life — experience, because I received so many birthday greetings from people who honestly, genuinely, and generously seem to care about me. I don’t deserve it. I have not earned it. But I am moved and thankful.
(I had a dream last night. I was at the Riverside Church in New York City, and I was going from room to room trying to find a meeting I was expected to attend. It was an important meeting. I was running late. I kept trying to find it. Poking my head into room after room. I finally concluded that I was lost. Too late to attend the meeting. I was lost and just gave up. The last thing I remember is walking down Broadway all alone.)
There’s a connection between birth days and finding a room. We are born. A choice we do not make. Yet we are here. We find ourselves in a room. The room of a family house. The room of our elementary school. The room of our college or job or relationship. We go from room to room. We find and don’t find. We look frantically. We try to belong. We try to escape. Sometimes we stop looking altogether. But this is life. Room after room after room.
I had dinner tonight with some friends. Mike and Paula Lisbe. They used to be my neighbors. They moved but we’re still friends. I love their children. Paula has been my room almost since the day I met her. Why? Because I’ve known that if I ever needed a friend, needed help, I could call her. She would ask only one question: What do you need me to do? That’s what a mean. A room.
Jimmy Stewart discovered years ago in that black and white classic – It’s a Wonderful Life — that he really did have friends. That he had been blessed beyond his wildest imagination. It’s nothing nearly so dramatic for me today, but I am aware tonight that I have been blessed. People and experiences and places that have become rooms. It causes me to Take a Breath. It causes me to say — thank you. I say thank you on my birth day.