I turned 53 this past Sunday. How did that happen? The last time I checked I was 33. I always become rather introspective around my birthday. Especially now, since 2/3rds of my life is over. Folks are living longer and I might live past 73 but reaching my 50’s has been sobering just the same.
This past weekend, Michael and I camped at the Montreat campground which is only 30 minutes away. It was cold so we bundled up. Well, I didn’t bundle up enough partly because I refused to take out my winter coat yet. We brought Sparky and at one point, we put on the coat he hates and I wrapped him in a blanket as we sat next to the fire. It was a small fire but that’s okay. (see picture above)
Here is a picture of Michael preparing dinner. He’s all bundled up so you can’t even see his face. It’s remarkable how we could be 30 minutes away from the city yet it felt as it we were out in the country.
This Sunday was World Communion Sunday and folks at GCPC were invited to wear garb from other parts of the world. The choir didn’t wear robes but instead wore festive clothes. It sounded like it was a fun service and I’m sorry I wasn’t there -not too sorry though, since I loved camping.
I did read Mark Ramsey’s sermon called “Enough to Save the Day.” He used Luke 6:17-22 and Acts 16:16-40 – the story of Paul and Silas. Mark pointed out the jailer asked one of scripture’s most profound questions, “What must I do to be saved. He suggested this “is a personal question in search of a personalized answer…..What must I do to be saved from what destroys me? What must I do to be saved from my particular bondage, my oppression, my addiction, my emptiness, or my boredom? There are countless ways to lose our way in this world or to be in bondage, just as there are many different threats from which we need to be saved.”
I’m in bondage to the past – the way I used to be – for I often long for things that just aren’t going to happen. Earlier in the sermon, Mark spoke about “climbing the ladder,” one I metaphorically, fell off a long time ago. I’m not going to be a great preacher, chaplain, teacher or many other dreams I’ve had. Falling off this ladder can be lonely because everyone else seems to still be on it.
However, I think the way Mark used this term is broader than how it’s often used.. He said in many of the conversations he’s had with folks, people are “so tired of trying to climb some ladder: the ladder of success, the ladder of first impressions, the ladder of spiritual enlightenment, the ladder of striving, the ladder of pain….the ladder of question after question about the meaning of life.”
In this sense, perhaps I am still on some sort of ladder. It’s the ladder of improving after a brain injury. While it is true that even after 18 years, I’m still improving and will improve until I die, it doesn’t need to be my focus.
So as I begin my 53rd year, I want to focus on being saved from my bondage. I’m so glad I spent my birthday weekend out in the woods – even if it was cold. I want to focus on the beauties of this world and on the creative Spirit within me. There is a Spirit within me, if I’d only listen to Her voice.