- Yesterday was one of those days that gave me, as my three daughters would say, all the feels.
I had my sixty-third birthday, a day I had been anticipating with a sense of profound wonder, dread, longing, excitement and fear. As many of you know, I had already lived one day longer than my father back a few months ago, so that sigh of relief could be expelled slowly and softly and with gratitude. However, I had still not vaulted over the next hurdle, the official one, the birthday that would make me officially older than my father had ever been. He never celebrated his sixty third birthday. Yesterday, I did.
What did this mean to me and those who care about me? It meant that I am now older than the man who with my mother had a thought about me that lead to my being born and having time on this planet. I am sorry that he died young, but I am glad that he got to live at all. That is the reason I am here now. Unapologetically cosmic thoughts, I know, but you just can’t help having those thoughts about your place in the universe and what it all means at these monumental times. You just can’t. So, I am having them. I am sitting with them. I am thinking the thoughts and feeling the feels. I am sorry that my father never got to celebrate sixty-three. I am grateful and happy that I have been allowed to. In a sweet card that my mother sent me yesterday, she said ” I’m glad you reached 63 and can now look forward to growing older with Trina and enjoying many years of joy and happiness.” I think my astute mother summed it up for me while giving me permission as only mothers can. You made it. Now, move on and live your life. Don’t fear. Live. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best, and I love you.
2. COVID-19 is still rampant in our country, and the numbers are awful, but there are people out living their lives and being careful as they do. I drove to my office in Barnwell County in South Carolina on Thursday for the first time since March. It was very odd. The route I took was the same, but the landmarks were different. Timber had been harvested along one highway, leaving a broad vacant expanse that made me feel quite disoriented for a few seconds as I drove through it without my usual landmarks. Another stretch of trees and houses looked devastated, as if a bomb had gone off over them. I later found out that a tornado had touched down there, destroying most everything in its path since the last time I drove past that area. There were people in cars driving to their destination, stopping at stores, all along the route, and it all felt so normal, but not, sort of like being in a Stephen King novel. I just knew that the rabid dog or the possessed car or the Man in Black were going to come out of no where and undo my world.
When I got to the clinic I donned my mask, went inside, said hello to the few people who were physically working at that site, went to my office and closed the door. I came out only a very few times before leaving at five PM to return home. Meetings were on Microsoft Teams. Appointments were on Doxy.me or Doximity on my computer or my iPhone. Things at the office, my first time physically working there in seven months, were decidedly not normal. We are going through the motions, but the motions seem too scripted, too acted, too fake.
3. We voted yesterday, a very good way to start my birthday. The whole process took ninety minutes, was very smooth, professionally facilitated, and seamless. The wait in line in the already hot sun at 9:30 AM was something I have never had to do to vote before, much less voting this early. It was worth it. The sense of active participation in our government is palpable as you stand there with several hundred of your neighbors, all waiting to take part in this grand experiment that we call democracy. This is not a political blog, so I won’t go there, but let me just say this. We need to get back to decency. We need to get back to caring for one another the way we care for ourselves. (we talked about this is church this morning-see below). We need to get back to compromise. We need to get back to working for the things that benefit the majority of us, that lift and elevate all of us, not just the privileged few. If you have not voted, do so. It’s important. Exercise your privilege. Vote.
4. We watched a wonderful documentary last evening after an even more wonderful grilled filet mignon birthday dinner. The piece, Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You, was an uplifting look at life, relationships, growing older and contributing to the world using your talents and your need to communicate with others. If you like rock and roll, you will love this up close look at how Springsteen and the E Street Band make their fabulous music together. Even if rock is not your cup of tea, watch this for its take on life and love, grief and loss, paying tribute to those who have gone before and carrying on traditions that are timeless. It will be well worth your time, then listening to the album itself will just mean that much more to you.
5. We went back to the Church of the Good Shepherd for in person worship for the first time since March this morning. Just like my drive to Barnwell this week, this trip to the sanctuary we love to worship with others was anticipated with joy. The services are limited to only forty eight parishioners (the sanctuary holds many times that in normal times), everyone is socially distanced (we sat in a pew by ourselves, at least six feet away from all others) and all are wearing masks. We were able to wave to friends at a distance and even spoke to a couple but it was nothing like normal times of meeting and greeting. Although there was wonderful organ music by Jim Nord, the congregation is not allowed to sing at all. Communion consists of going up one by one to the priest, receiving the bread and then exiting the sanctuary. No common cup is allowed. The service is short and sweet. Once again the pandemic has altered our day to day lives to the point that we are going through the motions and grateful for it, but we are certainly not getting the richness of experience that we got before COVID-19.
So, my friends, I have now lived sixty-three years on this planet and my mother has given me permission to move on and live many more happy ones! I intend to do just that, starting today. May our post-COVID-19 pandemic life continue to be filled with celebrations, music, worship, friendships, creativity, love and connections that enrich us, nurture us and give us myriad reasons to live life to the fullest. Happy Sunday!