The first week of September always seems to mark a time of renewal, re commitment and reconnection for me. The first marking is the back to school thing. From the age of 4 (turned 5 the next day) through 17 I was back to school -- John M. Barnes Elementary, St. Mary's, back to John M. Barnes, Evergreen Elementary, Simpson Junior High and good old Flat Rock High School -- every September for 13 years. There was new clothing, new classes, new teachers, new books, and all the excitement of beginning something new and different. But the four years after High School were no different -- the week of Labor Day marked back to College. And, as if not to be outdone, the next three years after college saw me marking Labor Day as the time I began and continued through my Seminary training. So, from my 5th Birthday through my 24th Birthday, every single September was a "back to school event." Needless to say, that gets ingrained in the soul. I want to go out and buy new shoes (I did last week), I want to buy new books (again, last week), and I want to start some new classes, new educational experiences -- I'm working on it.
The first week of September also marks my Birthday (Friday this year, September 5 every year). When I was in Elementary School this always bummed me out because the "birthday party tradition" usually wasn't established in the class room yet and my birthday was usually glossed over (or was the day school started or the day before or after). I have a long standing tradition of reviewing my journal the week of my birthday. I am not sure if this is wise because it always reminds me of how far I still have to go spiritually. I read through my struggles and failures and occasional successes and victories, and I am reminded of my humanity, my brokenness and how far I have to grow to be the kind of person I think I am and to become the kind of person God is calling me to be.
So, here I am, in the midst of new beginnings (can I get a compass and protractor?), while taking time to reflect on the year now past (how long will I struggle with SOSM (the same old stupid mistake?)? I will be 52 this year (or 48 since when I hit 50 I decided to start moving backwards). All in all it was a good year. I traveled to Africa with my 3 very best friends. I finished my Doctor of Ministry (graduated in December). I visited Israel/Palestine (again). I have seen the church I pastor move deeper in its mission connection. I am part of a new call "to Radical Christianity" that is getting some traction.
I am making plans for how to invest the next year of my life (got tired of "just spending time"). How will I stay connected with God? How will I be a better husband? How will I keep growing and learning? How will I be a better Pastor and leader? What is the next stage on the journey?
I don't have those answers yet. All I know for sure is that I need to make each day matter and live each moment as if it were my last.
Happy Birthday to me.