REFLECTIONS ON TURNING 60
“So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:12)
Yesterday I turned 60. Today I began my 7th decade on this lovely and precious planet of ours. It is giving me pause, this turning 60 - much more than turning 50 did. Last night at dinner a friend said she remembered Katie Hendricks saying that “our 60’s are very creative years.” I like the sound of that! I don’t feel 60 - whatever that means. More than that, it doesn’t seem possible that I am 60. It does feel like time is moving faster to me, the older that I become. I’ve also been reminded again recently that life can end just like that... ! .... and so I want to make the most of my days. I want to keep learning how to love, I want to pursue the things that I hear God calling me to pursue. I want to be grateful for each day.
What I”d like to do in this moment is think back on each of the first six decades of my life, and offer some reflections and and some thanksgivings. So here goes...
Ages 0-10: Thankful that my parents decided to have one last child! For being born in England and eventually having the perspective of being a citizen of the world. For my parents and sisters, for my first school teachers, for Coach William in Little League (the best baseball coach I ever had), for my earliest experiences hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, going to the beach and body surfing, and going to Church - things I still enjoy to this day.
Ages 10-20: More education, more good teachers - from Stiles Point Elementary (South Carolina) to First Colonial High School (Virginia) to the University of Colorado. For the Congregational Church and then the Episcopal Church. For driving across the country with my family (many times!) as we towed that Nimrod pop-up trailer, and all the birthdays I had in Colorado. For climbing my first 14er, Longs Peak, at age 17. For the beginning of driving and dating and leaving home.
Ages 20-30: For all the turns I took in trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be - from journalism (one semester) to environmental conversation (B.A) to law school to Peace Corps (teaching high school) to discernment for Holy Orders. For being paid (very poorly!) to lead hikes for the YMCA of the Rockies. For meeting Julia (greatest gift from God - ever!) and getting married just before I turned 30. For growing in faith and realizing that I could indeed have a transformative and personal relationship with God, through Christ. For the first time I ran in the Bolder Boulder. For climbing 14ers...
Ages 30-40: Going to seminary and becoming parents to Zach and Hannah and starting my vocation as a priest. Learning so much from being married... from being a dad... from being in therapy... from daily quiet time with God... from Bible study with others. Learning from parishioners at St. John Chysostom and St. Martha’s. Being with my father one last time, just before he died... when I was 38. For being part of a clergy wellness group (still happening to this day). Colorado getting a Major League baseball team. Climbing more 14ers...
Ages 40-50: More parenting, almost all of it delightful! Coming to St. Ambrose. Being in the room with my sisters when our mom took her last breath, when I was 44. For a great 50th birthday, including a trip to Boston and Fenway Park with Zach to see the Red Sox play the Yankees (I wish Dad could have been there!). Beginning to learn from Gay and Katie Hendricks. Began writing weekly email meditations. Climbing more 14ers...
Ages 50-60: Seeing Zach and Hannah go off to college and graduate from college, and begin to find their path in the world. Learning more - with others - about conscious loving and healthy relationships, and bringing these teachings, with Julia, to St. Ambrose. Four international mission trips with members of St. Ambrose. Learning so much from the parishioners and staff of St. Ambrose. An amazing sabbatical in 2015, including pilgrimages to Peru, Hawaii, Scotland, and Italy. Zach getting engaged to Jordan Anderson. Slowing down in climbing 14ers, but backpacking the entire Colorado Trail over the summers of 2011-2013. Somewhere during this decade, I preached my 1,000th sermon. I am grateful for attentive, encouraging listeners! Being part of an amazing learning group with Julia and eight other people over the past four years. Re-proposing to Julia after 25 years of marriage, then celebrating 30 years of marriage with her and our children and Jordan and Regina (Hannah’s friend) just a few weeks ago.
I don’t know what will transpire in the next 10 years. I know that Zach and Jordan are getting married next June, and that they plan to launch their careers in Minnesota. I know that Hannah is about to start her second year as an elementary school teacher, and that Julia and I still have plenty of dreams - individually and as a couple - to keep us excited about life for many years.
Thank you for the part you have played in teaching me, encouraging me, giving me feedback, telling me about the part of a sermon or a meditation that spoke to you. Thank you for allowing me to come into your lives in different ways, whether that be through officiating at your wedding, baptizing your children, presiding at a loved one’s funeral, hearing your stories of how you have experienced God in your life, going with you on retreats or on mission trips, singing and praying with you on Sunday mornings, praying with you on other occasions, or as we shared a trail.
I am extremely grateful to God for having lived for 60 years, and I appreciate the part that you have played in my learning, my growth, my joy. THANK YOU!
Who are some of the people you are grateful for.... what are some of the experiences for which you give thanks.... as you count your days?