Around 25 years ago, and several times since then, I or my husband was told that I could not possibly survive much longer, and that the odds of my making 40 years of age were slim to none, never mind getting to 60. Here I am! I wonder how many of those doctors are still alive? My hope and prayer is that all of them are, and that they could somehow read this post and realize that even predictions made with the best of intentions, or to the best of knowledge, are frequently proved incorrect! Here is a photograph of me, taken just five minutes ago:
Sixty years have been quite a journey. I have made a habit in the past several years of saying, “I regret everything. . .” if asked “Do you regret any part of your life?” It is said with tongue in cheek, because all-in-all I have lived the life I have chosen, for better or for worse. Some choices were good ones, and others not so good, but I can say positively, that I have grown through all of them. The good choices spurred me to live them out in full, the bad ones taught me to hopefully choose more wisely. Most of my sins these days are sins of omission rather than commission, although there continue to be an abundance of both; therefore, with good reason, I must still be taught, I continue to try to “shut up and listen” (so hard for me!) and strive to learn. It is a good life.
Many people, in all sincerity, have offered me condolences about the illness that I have struggled and battled with over the past 30 years. Admittedly, pain is a difficult thing to co-habit with, and I have often been brought to tears, not just by the intensity but by the frustration of dealing with it for days, weeks, months, and indeed years at a time. But pain and illness are not who I am. I refuse to accept ownership of them – they are not the sum total of my being. Pain and I still circle one another, but my approach to this war is different now. Growing older does have its advantages, in that the longer I live, the more I can count on the fact that nothing lasts forever. So I treasure the good times, enjoy them as much as possible, and store them in my memory bank, to be brought out when I need them. The bad times are what they are, but I’m not required to remember them, so I push them as far from my memory as is possible. By the Grace of God, it becomes easier each day to forget the hard times, and to remember with crystal clarity all the joys my life has held. There have been plenty of both. But the good times are the ones that stand out, and like sequoia redwoods, they completely overshadow the undergrowth of the illness, pain, and hardship that have been a part of my life.
So my Dear Gentle Readers – thank you for all your wonderful good wishes for this my 60th birthday. I had a wonderful day! The blessings of my family have been overflowing – I love them so, and equally wonderful, I know they love me! I have friends everywhere, who through their loving kindness and intercessory prayers have given me back my life over and over again. Because they joined with my family in prayer, I was able to finally learn to let go, and to know that everything does not depend on me. You have all offered me that gift of freedom. I will always be grateful.
Most of all, though, I offer up my love and thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity of Creator, Savior, and Holy Spirit. They are One, yet many, and through the constant and abiding presence of each and in communion with them together and separately, I have been gifted with a faith, a future, and a hope. I know that they live within me, that they are now and forever, and that nothing can or will separate me from the joy of relationship with Them.
Illness, pain, tragedy, hardships – you go ahead and do your worst! Happiness and fun, play and gratification – I know you’ll come, and I know you will most certainly go. I have the joy and peace within me that passes all understanding. Whatever love and joy I have been able to offer and give to others has been returned – “pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into (my) lap.” Of all, I have been most richly blessed. I have been given enough. . .
A Birthday Prayer
Each day I wake with wonder
My life unfolds before me
In patterns new or old
Ever-changing in design.
With only the light upon my way
That is needed for the now
In confidence I walk the road ahead.
Yesterday’s journey is over,
Today’s has just begun.
I ask for eyes to plainly see
The tasks that I must do,
Ears to hear the voice of need
And a willing heart to answer.
May I have the insight to know
I have all I need for today,
And if I give it all away
I cannot ever out-give You.
I cannot adequately thank nor offer praise
For all that You have given:
New every morning is Your love for me!
Each day I wake with wonder,
Each night I rest in awe,
In gratitude for what I cannot comprehend:
The overwhelming, never-ending abundance
of enough. . .