Archive for September, 2017

Birthday blessings

The days leading up to my 61st birthday found me preoccupied with the natural disasters of hurricanes, earthquakes and fires all over our poor planet. Actually they are “natural” only in that they are the natural consequences of our choices, our failure to change patterns of consumption and care for our common home.

These might seem like unusual “birthday blessings” but for me, aware as I am of certain personal “hurricanes, earthquakes and fires” that roared through my life in the past year, they clearly connect with my experience. After almost ten years of surveillance, recurrences, treatments and more surveillance, I still can be rather cavalier about warnings that pop up on the radar screen.  The little flashing lights in my visual fields were not something I wanted to pay attention to, kind of like those early pictures of Irma in the Atlantic. I needed others to tell me that they could become a major storm in my body!

I thank God for the blessings of experts who planned and carried out my treatment. While the surgery, hospitalization, recuperation and follow-up radiation experience have been comparatively easy, now I feel like I am returning to a “home” that is a bit storm-damaged. The hair is growing back but I can feel the dent in my skull every time I shampoo. I can see but my visual acuity is not quite what I wish it would be. And the power-lines are still down in some parts of my life.  I am aware of the many blessings of healing that have been poured out in me and the prayers that have sustained me from all parts of the globe.

elijah cave

In this octave of my birthday I am drawn to pray with the prophet Elijah who faced his own hurricanes, earthquakes and fires until he found God in the tiny whispering sound. (1Kings:19)  I love the story! Poor Elijah, running for his life and thinking he could hide from God and escape his calling. But God finds him on Mount Horeb and says, “Why are you here?” What a great question for a birthday celebration! God tells Elijah to stand at the mouth of the cave and to wait for him to pass by.  Violent winds came…but God was not in the winds. Next the earth began to quake…but God was not in the earthquake. Then came the roaring fire…but God was not in the fire. Through the hurricane, the earthquake and the fire, Elijah waited. Only afterwards, when he felt the tiny whispering sound, did he cover his face as he stood at the entrance of the cave. And Elijah heard God ask him again, “Why are you here?”

That is the best birthday blessing: to recognize no matter how storm-battered I feel with the passing of another year, there will be a tiny whispering sound if I wait for it. And the voice of God will ask me, “Why are you here?” That is the gift I will unwrap with God each day in the next year!

birthday gift


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