34: Blessing on the Frontier



All at once, the sun rises on year 34.  I fall out of bed early and consume coffee, cereal, and scrambled eggs as quickly as I can so that an early morning run is still possible.  I read David Whyte.  I scribble words in my journal – scratching out a few, leaving a few sentences unfinished, starting and stopping, letting it be.  Our old dog snores close by.  She always insists on being close to me – a gift that I know I will miss when her days come to an end.

The youngest begins making some moaning sounds, and I wonder if my quiet time is coming to an end.  Frustration comes as I have no clarity on this morning.  No idea or image or inspiration insists on being born this morning.  But I show up anyway.  I re-read my birthday posts from previous years, and I remember the places where I stood, the people that surrounded me, and the state of my heart in those years.


“Maturity is the ability to live fully and equally in multiple contexts; most especially, the ability, despite our grief and losses, to courageously inhabit the past the present and the future all at once.  The wisdom that comes from maturity is recognized through a disciplined refusal to choose between or isolate three powerful dynamics that form human identity: what has happened, what is happening now and what is about to occur.

Maturity is not a static arrived platform, where life is viewed from a calm, untouched oasis of wisdom, but a living elemental frontier between what has happened, what is happening now and the consequences of that past and present; first imagined and then lived into the waiting future…

Immaturity always beckons, offering a false haven, an ersatz safety, in one state or the other: a hiding place and disappearance in the past, a false isolation of the present, or an unobtainable sure prediction of the future. But maturity beckons also, asking us to be larger, more fluid, more elemental, less cornered, less unilateral, a living conversational intuition between the inherited story, the one we are privileged to inhabit and the one, if we are large enough and broad enough, moveable enough and even, here enough, just, astonishingly, about to occur.” ~ David Whyte

Frontier: The extreme limit of settled land beyond which lies wilderness
Intuition: The ability to understand something immediately and instinctually

Each year’s birthday post is a sort of blessing that I offer to myself.  A blessing names where you stand, what you long for, and the hope to which you cling.  This year, my blessing is taking its time to emerge.  It does not come with ease, but I trust it in its unfolding.  It cannot be rushed. It does not work on a timetable.

For now, there is water to drink, running shoes to lace, and miles to run.  There are supplies to gather, sunscreen to lather, and boys to prepare for the pool.  There are smiles to offer in passing, small moments to enjoy, and texts to send.

Perhaps this year’s blessing will come in the living.

This birthday, I bless the settled land and the wilderness.
I give thanks for the inner understanding which guides my feet.
I notice those who walk it with me.
I claim the living, and I pray for more – more stubborn gladness, more tender courage, more gentle grace, and more hours with which to know it all.

For all the ways that the “more” will transform me for the living of these days, I pause and give thanks.


33: The Near End



“On my island off the coast of Maine, I lived with the sea.  The whole ocean in its vastness I do not know.  I never sailed the tropic ocean where the Orinoco and the Amazon pour out their floods; I never watched the Artic and Antarctic seas wash their ice packs.  Wide areas of the oceans are to me unknown, but I still know the ocean.  It has a near end. Its waters surround my island.  I can sit beside it, bathe in it, sail over it, watch its storms, and be sung to rest by the music of it.”  Harry Emerson Fosdick Continue reading

32: Grounded and Ready to Receive


They had their ideas (a blanket fort, cupcakes, McDonalds) but I had my own.  I desired the simple profound things of life to celebrate this 32nd year of mine – time to be a parent without rushing, breakfast for lunch, hugs whenever I wanted them, hands to hold and be held, random “I love yous,” a movie in the theater, and a baseball game complete with sticky hands, short bursts of conversation, and wonder-eyed boys.

But more than even all those things, I spent my day seeking to live the day grounded and able to receive. Continue reading

31: Standing in the Sweet Spot


I couldn’t help but keep looking down at him as we walked along. His hand gripped mine and his thoughts poured out of his mouth. Four and a half and he is growing into this little boy full of curiosity, feelings, and imagination. Is it possible to grow in awe of Life every year that passes? Can my heart expand to hold it all? I squeezed his hand every few minutes as I felt the waves of time lapping into me.

As another year goes round and I add a number to my age, I can’t help but find myself lost in the vastness of it all. What is this life that I lead? With what, to whom, am I to live it?

Continue reading

30: BLINK. 30 years, 3 days, and Counting


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Words from my dad on the occasion of my 30th birthday… presented over lunch with two squirming boys on a Sunday afternoon at a quiet spot (that is, until we arrived)

That’s it.
Open shut them open shut them
cry then eat then sleep then cry.

Finding your voice
finding your feet
losing your fat
in come your teeth.

Long summer days
dolls in your arms
but then its your friends
and school-day alarms.

Homework and games
leaves orange brown
thick golden hair
laughs all around.

Stepping then running
then sprinting and bursting.
A long-legged blur
for the future you’re thirsting

The fresh life you sought
brings you close to new friends
who love and live with you
and form a new lens.

Through which to cast
an eye towards another
and see your reflection
embraced completely.

That embrace once returned
leads to love’s relation.
and vows and new houses
and two new creations.

Eat then work then love then sleep
open shut them open shut them.
That’s it.

I blink and time has passed. Thirty years, three days, and counting. Days have passed and I have endured them. Some have sped too fast to catch my breath. Some have crept along too slow in between breaths.

The significance of these 10,953 days is not in the accumulation of meager wealth, success, or power. It is found in the ones who have walked these days with me. Continue reading