The “wall” on my Facebook page is populated with birthday wishes today, and I’m grateful for each of them. It comes from having 916 Facebook friends, I suppose — all of whom get a digital reminder.
This is one of those birthdays that takes on peculiar, if unjustified, importance, simply because it’s divisible by 10.
Some folks (younger ones, of course) have asked me what it feels like to be 60.
Not so different.
It feels like 20, except that when I was 20 years old, and within months of being called to my first pastorate, I knew everything. I was quite certain about matters of faith in particular, and figured that any piddling questions that remained could be resolved by finding and applying the appropriate Bible verses. That impertinent certainty has fallen victim to 40 more years of life experience: I know less, but I hope more, and have come to be at peace with that.
Sixty feels like 30, except that three decades ago I was exploring new thoughts and striving to do well in my seminary classes, and these days I’m on the other side of the podium, hoping that my students will do the same.
Sixty feels like 40, when my first book was published, except that I don’t get as excited when another one rolls off the press. Number eight is on the way, and I’ve learned the regrettable truth that for most authors in my field, writing books does not equate to making money.
Sixty feels like 50, when my staff at the Biblical Recorder mocked up a fake front page featuring me with a bald head and lots of wrinkles. I did get some of the wrinkles, but have also managed to keep most of my hair, though it’s going gray. I have a couple of minor health issues that come with age, and thinner skin on the backs of my hands, which I manage to bruise with annoying regularity, but otherwise I have no complaints.
Turning sixty feels much like any other day. I have more scars than I once did, but hope I’ve learned from them. I also have more people in my life, more stamps on my passport, and more rich experiences than I could ever deserve. A birthday, I figure, is mainly a good excuse to remember those things, and be thankful.
Albert Einstein, so I have read, refused to observe birthdays, saying “It is a known fact that I was born, and that is enough.” I figure that every day of life is wide open for remembering and learning, for hoping and dreaming, for making the most of the days we’ve been given.
And that, for me, is enough.