#106 – Quietly Waiting for my Birthday

Some years, I’ve hardly thought about my birthday in advance. Other years, like when I knew I was getting a bike, or when I turned 16, or when I was having a party, I waited impatiently.

This year, I waited with quiet anticipation. Would I even reach 72, I wondered?  I marveled when I saw that I probably would.

I felt good that morning, still glowing after an exceptional Easter service at Rockway Mennonite Church the day before.  It was a warm sunny Monday, so we drove an hour and a quarter to Aylmer, a favorite destination for us.  I bought coffee mugs in the Green Frog Gift Shop, and we found we were early enough to eat in the Tea Room without a reservation.  A special pleasure was the quiet…the room is usually full and too noisy to have a good conversation.

Photo by our waitress

After lunch we drove through the Old Order Amish settlement near Aylmer – another pleasure – and Sam stopped at Pathway Publishers to pick up a new Amish directory.

We returned to Kitchener in lots of time to eat homemade chicken potpie and an ice cream cake with friends in their home.

All in all, it was one of my most satisfying birthdays…

I wonder – how long is a “good” life span anyway? It surely varies from era to era. In my own family over three generations, the age of death of those who survived infancy ranged from my mother Martha Clemmer at age 97, to her mother Maggie Derstine at age 38 (from complications of childbirth). Grammy Lizzie Clemmer, considered “sickly,” died when she was 72, and Grampop Irvin Derstine, with a leg amputated due to diabetes, made it to 71.

When I read obituaries in the church papers, I get the impression that everyone who has died was in their 90’s!

The Psalmist takes a rather jaded view of the human life span in Psalm 90, where he speaks of God’s wrath, God’s eternity, and human frailty.   In v. 10 he says:

The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Photo by Kathy Waltner-Toews

My life has certainly been much more than “toil and trouble.”

In fact, I’ve had a good life, believing it has  a purpose, marveling at the grounding  my family of origin and community of origin in Pennsylvania have given me.

I’ve gratefully received the gift of living and working as an adult in southwestern Ontario.  I love the landscape, the multi-cultural setting, and the multi-faceted Mennonite community here.

But still…I’m pleased that I’ve reached my 72nd birthday. I’m  thankful for the extension of my life on this beautiful planet. I receive my present life with gratitude.  And I’m curious about what’s ahead….

Questions for Reflection:

  1. When have you barely noticed a birthday coming up?  Waited impatiently? Waited with quiet anticipation?
  2. What has been your most satisfying birthday? Why?
  3. What do you make of Psalm 90:10?

Next Week: TBA


6 thoughts on “#106 – Quietly Waiting for my Birthday

  1. I continue to appreciate your reflections, Sue. This one reminds us that our view of a normal lifespan is rather skewed and to give thanks for every year we mark. I’m glad you are still on this lovely planet too.


  2. Dear Sue, what a lovely birthday you had! I appreciated going through Psalm 90 a few times after reading your blog. It has familiar musings on the length of our days & it was interesting to read your recollections of family member’s lifespans.
    Then I like verse 14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice & be glad all our days” of course knowing that there are difficult days also. Love & Blessings –


  3. Happy Belated Birthday, Sue! What a gift you have been to the planet and to those who know and love you! This blog post has elicited reflection and gratitude for my own good long life and that of my dear Henry – each day a precious gift, now. Thank-you!


  4. Dear Sue, your reflections on your blog keep getting better and better and the pictures also! What a lovely birthday you had and, my gratitude for the day goes along with yours. I’m so glad you are still among us.


  5. Good afternoon, Sue,
    The end of April found me on a road trip to visit Alice Bauman in Goshen, IN – before returning to welcome two older members of our Danish family to our home for an extended visit around the time of Finn’s birthday, May 4. so, the weeks have been very full. Finally, I have recovered enough to get back to email that sat patiently waiting for my attention.
    I am so thankful that you are enjoying the gift of extra time – for another birthday of your own!
    I am grateful for your ongoing thoughtfulness about life, its beauty, and its challenges.
    I thank God for your life! with love Mary Mae


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