Monday, December 17, 2018

Turning 50 Ain't So Bad

Yes, it looks like I'm sticking out my tongue.
I remember when my dad turned fifty years old.  He was a pastor at a church in Toronto, and the Council brought over a very large Abraham made out of fruit.  I was 11 years old and it made perfect sense to me to bring over an Abraham, as Abraham had become an old man and 50 seemed really old to me.  Looking back at it now, I wonder what they were thinking?  As they were all in that same age range, surely 50 did not seem THAT old to them!

It's amazing how perceptions of age change with age.  I now hear of someone dying at the age of 75 and say, "That's so young!"  Maybe it's because my parents are in their 80s and I know of a number of friends have parents who are in their 90s.

Today I turn 50.  Many people lament it.  For some reason, it's not bothering me.  Turning 40 bothered me more.  It may be because I'm the youngest of five children, and I watched all my siblings break into this decade long before me.  It may be because Bob, who was fourteen years older than me, broke the 50 decade in 2004 (he would be 64 today!).  It may be because Michael broke the 50 decade a few years ago.

But, for what it's worth, I'm ready and I'm okay.
My family

In fact, I'm more than okay.  I have much to celebrate.  I feel I have lived several lives in these fifty years.  I have been privileged to see the world go through significant and positive changes in these fifty years. I have been able to watch my children grow and mature into adulthood.  That is not a privilege that Bob had and I am daily aware of that.

Not only that, but I also get to do work that I love.  Recently, I heard someone ask the question, "If you won one million dollars today, would you be at work tomorrow?"

I believe that I am one of the privileged who would answer that with a hearty, "YES!"  It's a privilege to work.  It's an even greater privilege to LOVE what you do. (Okay, I might take one day off to figure out what to do with the million dollars but THEN I'd be right back at work.)  Many of you may think, "It's easy for you, Renita - you get to travel to cool places."  But make no mistake that every work has its challenges - the grass is almost always greener on the other side of the fence.  But I do love my work.  And I know that is not the case for many.  What do we do in those circumstances?  Do we stay and try to find joy?  Do we change jobs?  Do we keep plugging along?  How does work become worship?

What about you?  If you won one million dollars today, would you be at work tomorrow?  For my birthday, if you would take a minute and respond to this with a "yes" or "no" and maybe a brief reason as to why, I would appreciate it!
My dad on his 50th birthday.  He turned 89 last month.
I love this picture of me with my sister Yvonne.  I was such a cute kid.  And I know my brother is thinking (RIGHT NOW - yes, you, Henry), "What happened?!"

I close with this prayer on my birthday, "Bless What Eludes My Grasp," from my favorite prayer book, Guerillas of Grace:

Lord, so many things skitter through my mind
and I give chase to gather them
and hold them up in a bunch to you.

But they go this way and that,
while I go that way and this...

So gather me up instead
and bless what eludes my grasp but not yours

Trees and bees, fireflies and butterflies
roses and barbeques, and people.

Lord, the people...bless the people.

Birthday people, 
giving birth people,
being born people,
conformed people;

Dying people, dead people, 
hostaged people, banged up people, held down people;

Leader people, lonely people, limping people;

Hungry people, surfeited people, indifferent people;

First world people,
second world people,
third world people;

One world people,
your people,
all people.

Bless them, Lord.
Bless what eludes my grasp, but not yours.