Monday, September 24, 2012

thirtieth day of thirty years

The thirtieth year of my life: September 24, 2011- September 24, 2012.

They say that thirty is the new twenty, and you will probably hear me say that a lot for a while after today. Trust me when I say that I have thought many times this year about how twenty-nine is, to many people, the ideal age. I don't know of any other age that people lie more frequently about being, except for twenty-one and that is for different reasons. Twenty-nine seems to be the age in our culture that so many people, women especially, want to freeze in time. It is full adulthood without the full effects of aging. I certainly didn't want to let it pass me by without taking a good look at myself on the outside and inside.

This year was, in many ways, just an extension of the year before. I lived life in very much the same way as I did last year-- the same jobs, same community, same home renovation-- and it flew by in the blink of an eye. One of the few changes that happened is that our cat, Max, left our home and we brought a new kitty, Lars, into it.

Several years ago someone very wise once pointed out to me that eternal life wasn't meant to be a reference for the afterlife for those of us who believe. The essence of the word eternal means without beginning or end, and so eternal life is now, just as it always was and will be. So what we do with today really matters for eternity, in the same way that the promises of God's faithfulness are offered to us now and not just after we die.

This thirty day project was meant for me to pause in the present moment, in the midst of the "busyness" that we so often use to excuse ourselves from experiencing gratitude, enjoying simple pleasures or giving to others, and sing the hymn of a life not perfectly but well lived.

Henri Nouwen says this:

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: 'Thank you for being you.' Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: 'thanks for what you did or said or accomplished.' No, we say: 'Thank you for being born and being among us.' On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: 'we love you.'"

If this project were a book then now, at the end, is when I would write my introduction. I think it would go something like this:

If I possess love it is because I have been loved to no end. If I possess generosity it is because I have received countless gifts. If I possess humility it is because I have been brought low. If I possess strength or beauty it is because God has lifted up my head in due time. I write because the maker of my soul has compelled me to do so and I can only tell the story that was authored for me before one of my days came to be. This is my story, this is my song; it is real, it is raw and it is mine. And this is just the beginning.

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