Well very unusually for me, but like last year, I am away from home and family on my birthday. Last February I was in Belgium for our Community’s European Gathering and enjoyed a lovely weekend in Spa before driving on through Germany to the Czech Republic, where I spent some time writing and teaching at IBTS in Prague.
I did see Shirley for a couple of hours yesterday as I dropped her off in Scarborough where she is spending the weekend with her mum and two sisters.
I woke early, listened to the farming programme, (that’s early!) opened my birthday cards and did a couple of hours writing before going up to the main house here at St Oswald’s to check e-mails.After a wild and stormy night, nothing in comparison to that experienced in the south of England but nevertheless enough to rattle the windows, the weather looked as though it was improving as I looked out of the window late morning and so I made my preparations to go for a walk.
Being alone on your birthday affords lots of time for reflection and I thought it would be appropriate to go for a beach walk, as someone who was born near to the sea at Whitley Bay, 57 years ago today.
Well my optimism was misplaced and within twenty minutes of being on the beach, contrary to the forecast, it started to pour with rain and rather than plough on, I turned back and retreated to a seaside café where I enjoyed a comforting hot chocolate and spent some time looking out on the increasingly grey and bleak seascape. Not anticipating a turn in the weather I had not bought a paper so was left to simply sit and ponder and I started to think about things that I was thankful for and very easily within the next half an hour jotted a whole host of things down, which I have subsequently added to over a cuppa back at the cottage I am staying in.
So, for anybody who is interested and in no particular order of priority apart from the first few;
57 things that I am thankful for on my 57th birthday:
1 My faith in God, or rather his love for me
2 My wonderful wife
3 My children
4 My grandchildren
5 My daughter in-laws and son-in-law
6 My parents
7 Our wider family
8 My two close soul friends
9 Some really good friends, near and far across the world
10 Great colleagues and a significant number of valued Companions in Community
11 A happy and secure childhood, (Good Attachment Theory)
12 Never being rich or financially secure but never being without a good home, food to eat and an appreciation that riches do not lie in material possessions or bought experiences
13 Being born a Geordie and living in the North
14 Enjoying good health
15 Being able to still play sport
16 The ability to walk and climb up hills without being out of breath
17 A lifestyle that affords me considerable freedom amidst many responsibilities
18 A Rule of life, Availability and Vulnerability, by which to live by; informing, inspiring, challenging and life-giving.
19 Being creative and resourceful
20 Essentially living simply amidst the complexities of life and work
21 Enjoying the new season of writing and resourcing
22 Opportunities to lead and teach
23 Seeing the Community grow and develop
24 The pleasure I still find in driving
25 A sense of humour
26 The ability and time to pray and think deeply about things
27 Being intuitive
28 Emerging links and friendships across Europe
29 The sea and opportunities to sail
30 Feeling secure
31 A real sense of vocation; monastic and missional
32 The countryside and Top Farm, Norfolk and all its happy associations
33 Opportunity to input and serve the Baptist Union and other leaders
34 A lovely spiritual director and some great prayer supporters
35 Formational Bible College training
36 Some godly examples and mentors, past and present
37 A good PA
38 Being a Non conformist (Baptist)
39 Appreciating life in all its rich diversity and fullness
40 Chai Latte
41 Opportunities to make a difference for people, places and situations
42 Meeting interesting people from all walks of life
43 Owning a dog
44 Pottering in the garden and doing DIY jobs
45 The ability to relax easily
46 Coming up with ideas and designing things
47 The radio
48 The Guardian
49 Peter Kay, the comedian
50 Being a Boro supporter
51 The Archers
53 Kozel (Czech) beer
55 Portrack Baptist Church and their calling Linda to be one of their pastors
56 Good sleep
57 Texts, calls and emails from folks wishing me Happy Birthday, including my grandchildren talking and singing to me over the mobile phone.
Birthdays are important. I often share with people these words from Henri Nouwen:
Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone ‘thank you for being you’. Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say ‘thanks for what you did or said or accomplished’ no, we say ‘thank you for being born and being among us’. On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen but we lift someone up and let everyone say ‘we love you’. Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness and affection. These are ways of saying ‘it’s good that you are alive’; ‘it’s good that you are walking with me on this earth’, let’s be glad and rejoice.’ Henri Nouwen
What a wonderful list of blessings, and may the coming year bring you many more. Thank you for being you – and for offering your reflections in this blog which stimulate my thoughts and spirit. Happy Birthday indeed, Roy.
Well, I think that calls for another Happy Birthday from me……. and may God bless you as richly in the coming years as He has done to date, or even more!! Not far off from that next significant birthday……! I can gloat, it’s a little further off for me ……. xxx
Many happy returns to you.
God bless you.