Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 66. Being confined with a broken ankle is not exactly how I thought I would celebrate my birthday this year, but as my father is known for saying, "That's the way it is."
I recall many wonderful birthday celebrations in my life: going to see "My Fair Lady" on Broadway for my 13th birthday, celebrating my 40th with dear women friends at a surprise luncheon planned by my husband, doing Tai Chi on the beach in Zanzibar for my 50th. However, I also recall one year in my 30's when we got up in the morning to so much snow that all birthday plans were cancelled.
Birthdays are not always easy to handle, and I think about a picture of what must have been my 6th birthday. My birthday guests are seated on the steps of our house, and I am turned away from them, sobbing. Was I overwhelmed? Disappointed? Was the reality less than what I had built up in my mind? Who knows, for that was 60 years ago, and I have learned over the decades that some years are just better and easier to celebrate and be celebrated than others.
The Movement of God
I assume this will be one of those birthdays I will not forget, nor do I want to forget it, for even though I am confined and moving slowly, I recognize there are gifts in this time. The challenge is to recognize and honor them. Joan Chittister in her book The Story of Ruth offers a good starting place for ongoing reflection:
Change points are those moments in life in which
we get inside ourselves to find out that we are not,
at the end, really one person at all. We are many--
each of them lying in wait to come to life. We are
each a composite of experiences and abilities, of
possibilities and hopes, of memories, and wonder,
of gifts and wishes. Every stage of life calls on a
different dimension of the self. Every stage of life
is another grace of being that teaches us something
new about ourselves, that demands something sterner
of ourselves, that enables us to learn something deeper
about our God.
One of the questions often asked in spiritual direction is "How is God moving in your life right now?" A good question, and one that even though I am not moving very much right now or perhaps because I am not moving easily or quickly during these recovery weeks, this is the perfect time to reflect on the movement of God in my life right now. If you have been reading this blog, you know how much the theme of moving has figured into my life over the last couple years. Now my challenge is to come to a place of quiet and stillness in which to feel how God is moving in my life, "to learn something deeper about our God."
Questions for Discovery
Who is this Nancy who is not moving? Who is this Nancy whose springtime plans are on hold and whose lists for doing are not being accomplished? Who is this Nancy who loves quiet time for reading and writing and meditating, but when she chooses it? Who is this Nancy who prefers to handle her own needs and now must accept the help of many? What is this time-out preparing this Nancy to do, to be? Who is the Nancy who will come to life because of this time of not moving?
One thing is clear: God is moving in my life, the life of this Nancy right now, in the form of all those who have offered prayers and well-wishes for my healing and all those, who have helped in so many concrete ways, especially my family. God is in the movement of my husband who has been the perfect combination of taking charge and doing what needs to be done, anticipating my needs, but backing off when that was the right response. And pushing me when that was exactly what I needed.
Every Moment of Your Life
In some ways I feel like a young child getting dressed and making my bed "all by myself," but I also feel like the accumulation of all my birthdays, entering years when there is more memory than future. Peter Levitt in his book Fingerpainting on the Moon, Writing and Creativity as a Path to Freedom says, "Step forward and put new ground beneath your feet every moment of your life." Every moment of your life means even those moments when your feet are not moving very steadily. It's in the "every moment" that one is invited to know the movement of God.
I am listening. I am stopping. I am becoming still. I am accepting. I am receiving. I am opening. I am healing. I am sensing the movement of God in my life.
"May you move through the day with eyes open to the God who shines like the sun within and around you." Jan L. Richardson
How is God moving in your life right now? I would love to know.