I had originally thought I’d take a break from writing this week in observance of my 50th birthday. Travis, Erin and I left the Metroplex Wednesday following the incredible drive-by celebration with which you blessed me. We have since been ensconced in a small rock house from the early 1800’s located behind a manor house in the King William District of the Southtown area of San Antonio. We chose it for the safety of its isolation during this rapidly increasing time of coronavirus spread; its proximity to dozens of really interesting restaurants for walkabouts and takeout; and the small, but sparkling pool just outside its front door that has continued to sooth Erin’s swimming parched soul and made Travis and I wonder if we made a mistake not buying a house with a pool three years ago!
Wednesday evening, I turned off my phone and computer, disconnecting in order to reconnect with husband and child, and with myself. It’s now very early on Saturday morning and we will pack up and begin a slow journey home to be ready for worship in the morning. Sitting in the dark with a cup of hot coffee, rather than take the week off, I think perhaps the occasion of my 50
birthday is even more of a reason to write.
I recently had a conversation with a long-time friend about our fading youth. He asked, “What wouldn’t you give to be twenty years old again?” I began trying to think of a witty answer to his question. What
I give? I shocked myself to realize that I couldn’t think of anything I’d be willing to pay to be twenty years old again because I don’t want to be twenty years old again. At that point I realized I how blessed I am!
I remember twenty! Although I was curious and driven at twenty, I had many blind spots. At twenty I was also often arrogant, immature, unproven, non-compliant, judgmental and impatient. Admittedly, I was also: teachable, idealistic, loyal, intelligent, talented and reasonably respectful.
The conflict of my twenties was created by the inner turmoil of immaturity versus maturity. I wanted things my way without waiting. I wanted to be respected without always respecting. My twenties meant that I was too old to justify my adolescent foolishness, and too young to consistently offer wise leadership. I was optimistic, strong, energetic and visionary, but I was often conflicted, uncertain and fearful. Throughout my twenties, thirties, and even into my forties I wrestled with those conflicts, in my personhood and in my faith formation. But the fact that I have wrestled with them makes me hopeful now as I receive the gifts of this symbolic, half-century, half-way birthday. The gifts that come with decades of wrestling are greater authenticity, integrity, authority, emotional health, humility, effectiveness, self-awareness, Christ-centeredness, generosity, personal boundaries and a healthier spirituality grounded more by lived experience than rote memorization.
As a twenty-year old, I saw the cover of a Cosmopolitan magazine while waiting to check out of a store one day. The face of Cheryl Tiegs stared at me and her words were captioned below, “My fifties are proving to be the best years ever!” I remember thinking, “Oh honey, if you need to tell yourself that….” Now I understand the wisdom of her message, as well as the oft echoed sentiment of elders who, nearing the end of life, answer the essence of the question my friend asked of me with the affirmation, “I wouldn’t take anything for my journey now!”
The greatest gift that I receive at fifty is the realization that I’ll love and enjoy this decade because I have worked and wrestled my entire life to be in a position to be the wife, mother, pastor and person that I am today. I was none of these things at twenty! Or thirty! Or forty! And sixty may be even richer still IF I continue to do the work of wrestling with the Spirit and self. And I will. I have NO IDEA what God is inviting me to explore or become and, for the first time in my life, I’m not only okay with that, I find it pretty exciting.
Thank you for being such a special part of these first 50 years of life, and my beloved community for the years to come! Thank you for the surprise drive-by celebration and the countless blessings of seeing so many of your precious and much-missed faces. Thank you to each one of you who sent cards, called, texted, and posted well wishes on Facebook. Thank you for the creative posters, beautiful flowers, inspired cake, festive balloons thoughtful gift cards, and generous means with direction to care for self. You have been so extravagant with your time, talents, gifts service and witness in loving me. I cannot thank you enough!
As I sit in the darkness of this early morning reflecting on the gift of fifty years, I wondered if I could capture it in fifty words:
I am loved.
I’ve lived as I’ve believed.
I can’t imagine life without faith and community.
I’ve explored beaches and mountains; seen the Holy Land and the Southern Lights.
I’ve experienced the sanctity of death and birth. I hope the next fifty years are just as blessed.
Dreams come true.
I am so very blessed to be your pastor.
Grace and peace,
aka "The Vicar"
Worship at home. Save lives.
Love God. Love your neighbor