In 19 days, I turn 40. I’m not freaking out. At least…I don’t think I am. But there is something about that milestone, that’ll sneak up on ya.
When I wake up on my 40th Birthday, I’ll be unemployed. The day before, I’ll have said goodbye to the church I’ve served for the past 20 months and I will have lovingly, but officially, passed off their care and nurture, to the next guy.
That wrecks with the spirit a bit. I’m not a mother or a sister or even a very good Aunt. Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you I am a less-than-stellar friend, a mediocre wife (on my good days), an inattentive daughter, and a really poor Christian (most days). But I try to be a decent minister.
And when I wake up on my 40th Birthday, I won’t be that (I mean, at least not officially and professionally).
So. Maybe I am freaking out. A little.
I’m keenly aware that it is a stretch sometimes, to see ourselves as our whole…a stretch to see, that even our mediocre bits, still come together to make us into something.
Someone. Even when it’s hard to say who or what that is.
And I guess most of life, is just trying to piece those bits together and find ways to welcome the person we are now, and who we might become…even the non-existent, surprising, and squishy bits.
I think turning 40 is that milestone that has etched within it, a message that says, “You’ve come this far…” and then the rest, is worn, from all the hands that have rubbed its message before you. So that you’re forced to fill in the blank.
I don’t know what I’ll fill that blank with yet… and maybe that’s okay.
I’ve got 19 days to figure it out. Right?
The road is wide and the stars are out
and the breath of the night is sweet,
And this is the time when wanderlust should seize upon my feet.
But I’m glad to turn from the open road and the starlight on my face,
And to leave the splendour of out-of-doors for a human dwelling place.
I never have seen a vagabond who really liked to roam
All up and down the streets of the world and not to have a home:
The tramp who slept in your barn last night and left at break of day
Will wander only until he finds another place to stay.
A gypsy-man will sleep in his cart with canvas overhead;
Or else he’ll go into his tent when it is time for bed.
He’ll sit on the grass and take his ease so long as the sun is high,
But when it is dark he wants a roof to keep away the sky.
If you call a gypsy a vagabond, I think you do him wrong,
For he never goes a-travelling but he takes his home along.
And the only reason a road is good, as every wanderer knows,
Is just because of the homes, the homes, the homes to which it goes.
They say that life is a highway and its milestones are the years,
And now and then there’s a toll-gate where you buy your way with tears.
It’s a rough road and a steep road and it stretches broad and far,
But at last it leads to a golden Town where golden Houses are.
— Joyce Kilmer (40 years later, and I can still recite Trees…so thanks for that, Mom.)