Out boating with the fam on the Alabama River

Tomorrow is my 60th birthday. I am not the first and I am not the last to say, “it just doesn’t seem possible.”

In the last year, life has changed more than I could have anticipated. I write a lot less these days. My energy is spent in the ways a new rector must use her time and love—doing the largely mundane, trudging work to keep the AC running, the sermons at least somewhat decent week after week, the ministries and Bible Study, parishioners who are sick and in need, all tended to. My days include time doing things like this:

On the home front, my dad is becoming more frail—as he approaches his 93rd birthday, that is to be expected. Maria seems to have stabilized, is more connected and usually, less delusional; she is in need of constant reassurance that she is loved by us, even when 2-3 months go by without our visits. Sometiemes she calls three or four times a day and I have to gently remind her I am at work. Sherod, and our marriage, are still alive and deserving of care and attention as well.

As I moved into my role as Priest-in-Charge and then Rector, at Holy Comforter, I realized how important it would be to have more support in place than I’d had before. I come from a family that in previous generations has had more than its fair share of alcoholism. I have turned to Al-Anon, which is a program for family and friends of people who are alcoholic, and is based on the 12 steps of AA.

As often as I can possibly manage it, I get to meetings at 6:30 AM, even when it means hauling a rather tired carcass out of bed and into Montgomery when everything in me hollers, “But I love my bed.” I find in the Al Anon rooms the combination of hope and accountability that pushes me to dig deeper, go further, and try to be braver, in living the life I believe God wants for me. There are days that leave me as raw as if someone had gone over me with sandpaper, and mostly, what I have found is an even greater capacity for joy. For that, I am grateful.

That joy is essential at a time when I see the whole world slipping deeper and deeper into darkness. I could go on and on about what is happening in our own country. But it is not just here. Guatemala. El Salvador. Honduras. Chile. Lebanon. Hong Kong. Ecuador. Great Britain. Syria. Myanmar and the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, China with its ‘re-education’ of its Muslim Uighur minority population. And Colombia, my beloved country of birth. It was scarcely three years ago that hope grew into a seedling of peace, when the main guerrilla group and the Colombian government signed a treaty to end the violence and put down the guns. The commitments that were made were going to require both sides to stretch into some real sacrifice. And in the end, the stretch was too much for too many so violence is accelerating again, into far too much death and suffering.

“Ay, mi tierra hermosa y adolorida” Oh my beautiful and aching land. It’s a lament for our whole world, this ‘fragile earth, our island home,’ for the country I call mine now, for the country that I came from. I will be sixty tomorrow and I believe I will see a great deal more darkness in the time left to me. My prayer today is that I will be able to keep finding joy because I still believe that each of us can be a light of kindness and generosity and courage even in the deepest darkness. And it all starts with joy.

This is the day our God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.