Monday, October 15, 2012


Autumn Rain Shower, Jamestown, NC

On the Occasion of the First Day of my Seventieth Year on the Planet

I spent the entire morning at my church yesterday presenting the message for our annual stewardship campaign. I enjoyed the experience as it really was the culmination of a lifetime occupied with business, family, spirit, and learning. Our team’s message this year is how God’s overflowing blessings of grace have touched our lives to enable us to act as the vessels of clay that can in turn pour out additional blessings to others in need of both material and spiritual nourishment.

I had risen earlier than usual this morning since I had spent all yesterday afternoon outside in my yard celebrating the glorious fall weather and balancing my morning time spent indoors. It wasn’t that I was so anxious to rise early on a Monday as that my body was in a bit of revolt from the excessive physical labor of planting, raking and pruning which I enjoy. Sometimes the best way to cope with life is to simply focus on the task at hand, get a “good kind of tired” night’s sleep and vow to try again tomorrow. I’ve always liked the closing lines of Voltaire’s Candide after he’s been confronted with all the woes of the world. He acknowledges the brokenness, but responds to his mentor Pangloss with the enigmatic precept that “we must now cultivate our garden”.

So, fortunately, I was up and drinking my morning coffee when a lifelong friend called to wish me a Happy Seventieth Birthday! At this point in life, I try to appreciate every present moment on the green side and the occasion of my seventieth birthday had quite frankly escaped me. Life has been relatively good when viewed from the perspective of the reality of the temporary, broken world we inhabit. And I’m still able to acquire my few needs as they arise, so birthday presents aren’t highly anticipated at this stage. I did, however, receive a book gift card from my daughter and son-in-law, quietly delivered by the UPS guy in brown soon after the call, which was nice. I’ll have it redeemed by sundown!

It’s been a dry season for most parts of the country and the small patch of the earth that I tend was showing signs of stress as I toiled in my yard yesterday. I was satisfied with my labors and retired at nightfall, but I’ve learned that no amount of watering from my insignificant little garden hose can ever match a good soaking rainfall. And then at morning’s first light, I heard the slow crescendo of rain drops on my fireplace flue followed by a more rapid and louder rhythm on the deck outside my window. I reflected on past Mondays as I rose and drove to work on a chilly, raw autumn Monday. I reflected then on how beautiful it might be someday to simply sit at home on a Monday morning and enjoy the blessing of raindrops being poured out over the land. And so I savored the priceless gift.

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