When we're out on the boat we know to stay well away from lighthouses. They warn of chunky bits in the water that would damage our vessel. A lighthouse is a warning, but it's also a landmark. It commands our attention. "Ignore me at your peril," it says.
I think birthdays can say the same thing. In a few days I'll celebrate a big one - 60. Even writing the number seems unreal. How did this happen? When did I become, gulp, old?
The uncertain teenager, the adventurous 20-year-old, the busy woman with a growing family - those women that I was and still am seem not so far away. They remain inside my heart and my head. Yet, if I mentally pull myself away from myself and try a little objectivity, I know that I am not the same person I was 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago.
I don't want to be any of those women; I'm happy to be me, now, with the lessons learned from being 20, 30, 40, and 50. I look back over the years and am happy that my regrets are few and my joys many. Oh, I sort of wish I had the energy of 20-year old me, and the body to go with it, but I'm content with who I am just now.
I'm thankful to God for his faithful presence throughout these 60 years. It's not always been easy to believe, but working through my doubts through prayer and study has helped me establish and grow my faith while at the same time embracing uncertainty. The very essence of faith requires mystery.
Roses bloom late in my garden this October, perhaps to remind me that growth happens at any stage of life. Many plans, delights and dreams grow in my heart, forming buds that I hope will flower in time.
The rain and wind tear at the tender petals but the fragrance and beauty remains in October roses.
This week I'm teaching some lessons on sonnets. Shakespeare's Sonnet XVII is one of them. He writes about how no one in the future will ever believe how beautiful his subject is, and will accuse the poet of lying. The one thing that would make others believe that the poet was not exaggerating would be if a child of the subject were alive, and the poet's description could be verified through that child.
It made me laugh. Yesterday I made gingersnaps - perhaps for the second time this year. I spoke to my eldest daughter and she had made gingersnaps this week, too. Then I Skyped with my younger daughter who was eating cookie dough - yes, gingersnaps. In small and funny ways we do live on in our children.