Monday was my fifty-ninth birthday. I not it is not really kosher to admit to such things but I am rather proud of it. After all I have put a lot of time and effort into getting here.
It was however a bitter sweet day that Tom and I celebrated in the midst of our grief for those suffering in Haiti and in the presence of friends at a memorial service for a good friend who died last week. I was reminded that life and death are often intertwined in inexplicable ways. In times of suffering we need joy and celebration more than ever.
After the funeral we went out for a wonderful celebrative birthday meal. Then I returned home to find this spectacular arrangement of flowers from a good friend waiting for me. And on facebook dozens if not hundreds of birthday greetings, lots of e-cards and the following day a few more sent snail mail. I felt loved and affirmed, and my spirit was renewed by the celebration.
I was thinking about this today as I read through my Lenten guide and reflected on the upcoming season. The fasting and deprivations of Lent are only entered into six days of the week. Sunday is always a celebration of the resurrection and the inbreaking of God’s kingdom.
As I move into my sixtieth year I have also been doing a lot of reflecting on my life. I feel I have led such a privileged life. Born into an upper middle class family in one of the wealthiest nations of the world, provided with a good education, enjoying good health most of my life – what more can one ask for. But there is much more. I have had the privilege of directing the development of Mercy Ships healthcare ministry, a ministry that continues to impact the lives of thousands around the world. And through Mustard Seed Associates and my writing of books and liturgical prayers I still enjoy the incredible privilege of touching the lives of people around the world.
Life has not been without its challenges. I was born 2 months premature and spent the first month of my life in hospital. I grew up in a home in which there was a great deal of physical violence. Both of these things shaped my adult life and required a great deal of healing work, but by the grace of God they also led me to faith. Becoming a Christian as a teenager poured the love of God into my life and began a journey for me that has not only been incredibly fulfilling but has also led me towards freedom and wholeness in ways that I could never have imagined.
So this year I am planning to celebrate the goodness of God in my life in special ways as I move towards my 60th birthday. I would appreciate your prayers too as I reflect on how to use the rest of my life in ways that are honouring to God and to God’s call on my life.