This weekend, on Sunday, December 18, 2022, I will turn 58 years old.
My wife, with her Armenian background, has taught me to truly celebrate my own birthdays, to talk about them, and to enjoy them as fully as possible (Armenians are known to throw parties on their own birthday to celebrate those who have meant so much to them).
For a moment, sit with me in this question:
What is your age, and do you remember what you did on your birthday this year to mark the passing of time?
That begs another, more metaphysical set of questions:
Are we passing through time, or is time passing through us?
Are we the one moving through time, or is time moving through us?
Are we both moving?
I think both we and time are moving—in motion at all times—forward, ever forward.
Back to my birthday (can you tell I was a philosophy and religion major in university?).
The exact time of my birth will come on December 18, and, at the very second it arrives, it will pass—into the past.
Time, it has been said, is a river, running full and strong and relentlessly. The moment we step into it, noting the place where we stepped, the river of time continues on its merry way, ceaselessly moving forward.
But, like time, you and I are also moving on, moving in, moving with, moving through, time.
Like plunging feet first into the water of a river, we can get wet with time, be carried by time, enjoy time, and savor the hard flow of time moving around us.
And, strangely, the moment we immerse ourselves in time we can engage in activities that can actually seem to slow time, stop time, seize time, and even harness time’s wild energy for good.
Today, I will step into time. My wife will take me out to lunch at a favorite Kurdish restaurant in the city. A memory will be made and a conversation will be had that will enhance our marriage and heighten our attention to what is good and right and lovely.
Time will slow for a few hours. I look forward to that.
Tomorrow, I will step into time. My children will take me out to dinner and a one-person stage performance portraying C.S. Lewis on the topic of Christmas. One of my children who can’t be here will text me and we’ll share World Cup scores and a kind word. Another set of memories will be made, and laughter will lace through the day—laughter that I will hear in my mind as I go to bed that night (as I have for over 30 years since they were children).
Time will move quickly, that day, but I will seize it as it comes.
The next day, I will step into time. I will remember the passing of my birthday into the broad and deepening story of my life; I will remember turning 57, 56, 55, 54, 53, 52, 51, 50, 49, etc.
And my birthday this year will be, almost as quickly as it arrived, in the past.
In fact, you may be reading this at a moment in which everything I am sharing is already in the past. My writing may age well for others, or it may not.
But for me, my writing will remain true to the moment in which I am writing it.
Following that day (a few days after my birthday) will be the wedding of one of my precious daughters. I will completely forget that I had a birthday at all that day, overcome with joy and the activity around the celebration and the Christmas days that will follow.
So, as for today, I will be present to my birthday, in the moment of my birthday, by being thankful for my birthday.
I will savor it with gratefulness.
More specifically, I will be thankful for the memory that I am passing through time as part of my journey through eternity, hand in hand with my God-Who-Loves-Me.
I will treasure time; I will see it as investment, as opportunity, as precious and worthy of moment by moment, careful attention.
Every Sabbath day I remember eternity, and that I am passing through it on my way to Glory.
On my birthday, which happens to be on a Sabbath this year, I will remember eternity. And others will help me.
With that passing through, passing with, passing into time, comes change.
I will celebrate those changes. Here are just a few changes I will celebrate.
- I have more for which to be thankful
- I have insights I didn’t have before
- My body has weathered storms that I didn’t think it could
- My faith has deepened through answers to prayer
- My friendships have changed, some for the better
- I’m closer to seeing Jesus face to face
- I’m closer to seeing those I love who have passed before me
- I’m more confounded by the mystery of life
- I’m more confident that the Mystery Himself is my Keeper
- I’ve learned to love more graciously and forgivingly
- I’m more patient
- I don’t fear failure like I used to
- I’m about to complete lifelong goals (like my doctorate)
- I’m more grateful for opportunities than I’ve ever been before
- I have less to say and more to consider
- I have time to breathe and live and love before I pass into the next phase of eternal living
- And I could go on, like time itself
Today, invest time in treasuring, attending to, the time you are given.
It is a gift given to us, to you, to me, for the living, for the loving, for the learning, for the savoring.
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