|Don - age 4 days. As usual, with mouth open.|
55 years ago today I entered this life. Although I was there I don't remember much about the day. Too bad. I know that the day of my birth was a little more complicated than many. The woman who carried me for nine months and gave birth to me made the decision to give me up for adoption. I recently discovered she died in 2007. I'm sorry I wasn't able to say thank you to her or my biological father, who died in 1967, in person. My birth, I've been told, brought much joy to my mother and father who adopted me and took me home from the hospital. On my good days I've returned my joy and gratitude to them and - hopefully - the rest of the world as well.
I'm a big fan of birthdays. I keep track of them. I send emails and sing off-key renditions of Happy Birthday to tell people how glad I am they were born. While I've always loved birthdays, I haven't always remembered what a gift it is to be alive. Depression, addiction, and hopelessness has a way of doing that and I've suffered from all three at times in my life. But not today. Especially not today.
They say that ministers have only two or three sermons in them that they dress up in different ways, with different stories but essentially say the same thing. I'm not sure I have two or three. I might only have one. That life is a gift, more precious and rare than any jewel or star in the universe. That we must do all we can, getting all the help we can find, to celebrate and share that life. A life that is like no other and, if we listen and pay attention, will call us to do something great.
If we believe that God is the reason for our creation, maybe it is easy for us to embrace the idea that each of us comes into the world not only unique but with a purpose, a calling to be and do something wonderful. Now I believe in God, if God is the name for that which is greater than me and within me at work in the universe in mysterious ways I will never fully comprehend. But when I think about the amazing miracle that life - and each one of us is - thinking that God is the reason I am here is too simple compared to the bigger reality that Swimme alludes to.
Imagine everything that has had to happen in the two two, or twenty, billion years for us to be alive. If that doesn't blow your mind I don't know what will. Think of all the atoms and molecules that had to dance around just perfectly to come together as a human being. Think of all the accidents and coincidences that had to happen just right for our great, great, great, great grandparents to meet and fall in love. If you like math, factor that number by about a million for every generation on our family tree. Infinity seems to be WAY too small a number. Think about all those eggs and sperm who didn't want to get out of bed, so to speak, on the day of our conception, and think about those who did. And think about everything that has happened to let you read these words anywhere in the world, whenever you wish. Wow!
There was a time in my life when I would imagine the speck of sand I was in the vast history of the universe and I would feel small, even meaningless. Humility is an attribute to cultivate in life; worthlessness is not. It's sad to think how long it takes for so many of us to learn this and how some never do. It took a community, in fact several of them, to learn this and to keep reminding me.
This morning my email box is filled with birthday wishes from friends, family and retailers with their own special ways of saying how much I mean in their lives. Included below is one I received. Take away my name and put in yours. I suspect that is what this emailer does every day. May you remember its sentiments whenever the job is going rough and you doubt you can take it one more day, or the loneliness aches so deeply that you think nobody ever felt the way you do or when you want to return this life for something newer and shinier. Happy birthday to me. Happy every day to you.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Don!