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