Birthdays, Billy Graham, & Getting through February

It's the last day of February and we are at the tipping point of winter in Minnesota. The sun is setting later (we eat dinner in the light!) and we've even had a couple of 40 degree days. The heavy snow banks are sunken and melting. These are the days of desperate hope — we know spring will come eventually, but how many more snowstorms will blow through before we get there? Everyone I talk to is ready SO READY for a change.

 Celebrating my 34th birthday with my family. My mom even made me a carrot cake — the same recipe she has used since I was little.

Celebrating my 34th birthday with my family. My mom even made me a carrot cake — the same recipe she has used since I was little.

Today is also my birthday, or as close to a birthday as I can get (I was born on Leap Year, so technically I am 8). I am turning 34 and this aging thing is starting to hit me. Every few days it seems I spot new wrinkles and gray hairs. When I am feeling vain, I tilt toward despair and buy new eye creams at Target. When I practice memento mori, a Catholic discipline of meditating on my eventual death, I feel grateful that I get to sport these wrinkles, that I get to age. What a gift it is to live on this terrible, beautiful planet and to share my days with the people I love, to struggle with what it means to be human and alive at this point in history.

Being in my mid-30s means living with the decisions I made in my 20s — marrying this wonderful man and having these great kids — and life looks a lot like showing up and trying to be faithful. Each day is an invitation to grow into the person I was created to be, to use the gifts I have been given. It's an invitation that I often ignore, all too satisfied to distract myself from the hard work of showing up, being honest about my feelings both good and bad, and engaging in my life.

But when I take the time to get still and silent, I hear a voice encouraging me to create, to take the snatches of time that I have to write. Last week I listened to that voice and furiously typed out a new essay on my complicated feelings about Billy Graham, who died last week. I hope you will click over to Bearings Online and read it.

My biggest hope for the year ahead includes a lot more memento mori living, which is really living in gratitude and responding to God's invitation to show up each day with a hearty "yes." Thanks to you all for reading; I am grateful to share this planet with you.

 Skiing this month with my son in the north woods of Minnesota. One way to survive winter is to find ways to enjoy it.

Skiing this month with my son in the north woods of Minnesota. One way to survive winter is to find ways to enjoy it.