50 years ago today I drew my first breath.
50 years. 5 decades. Half a century.
For a long time, I have assumed that today, if it occurred, would be dramatic. But it isn’t.
It’s anti-climatic. In many ways, it’s a non-event.
But as I settle in for an otherwise normal day, I do remember all the birthdays I spent pulling tobacco. And I do remember all the birthdays I spent in the office (like today). And I do remember all those years I assumed that I’d never experience this somewhat ordinary day.
And I remember the day I was sitting in church, listening to a sermon, and being convicted that never again would I deny my ability to live 50 years. Although today makes me remember those days of my pessimism, it also makes me remember how I turned my back on that.
So now what?
My father died of a heart attack a few months shy of his 50th birthday. He had a happy future mapped out, but it never happened for him.
My Daddy was a good man and I miss him deeply. I’m very sad that my children never knew him, just as I never knew his father. But with all due respect to him, I think my Daddy made a mistake in assuming that he too would die young. He frequently said that he would, and tragically he eventually did. I followed in his fatalistic footsteps until the day a few words in a sermon convinced to me to reevaluate that belief, and from that day I’ve been infinitely happier. Before, I assumed that anything and everything I wanted to accomplish or experience had to happen before I was 50 years old. Now I confidently believe that this is halftime of my life. And I confidently believe that the best is yet to come.
So back to the question. What now?
I think it’s cool that Cherie and I are both in school. I’m sure we’re the only family in Keeling paying tuition at 4 different schools at the same time. Our kids are trying to find their places in life. So are Cherie and I.
This semester I’m taking a class titled “Vocation of Ministry.” I didn’t want to take it but it’s a required class. I went to seminary to study theology, philosophy, history, and comparative religion. I don’t want to take “how-to-be-a-preacher” classes. Or so I thought. But, as so often happens, I’m being slapped down by reality.
The books I’ve been reading for this class have really been speaking to me. They’re not “how-to-be-a-preacher” books. They’re books about discovering who you are—who you’re meant to be. They’re peeling back a lot of junk and causing me to question a lot of my assumptions about life and vocation.
I’ll write more about that on another day. But I’ll close out with a notion that has been on my mind a lot lately. For a person struggling to find his way in life, Quakers say “Way will open.”
I’ve meditated on that, and I believe it to be true. So today, on my fiftieth birthday, I am looking into a hazy future, confident that way will open.