Another year passing


I’m turning thirty-six today, which used to be considered mid-life, but not now that we’re living longer. Now the middle point’s at forty-five, and perhaps it’s even later for women. So I won’t be getting a red convertible this year. Not that I’m going to want one when I’m forty-five either….

I feel far from crisis. In fact, thirty-six feels like a comfortable age, a forgiving age. I handle myself with a little more grace than I used to. When I look into the mirror, I no longer rush in to examine every flaw. I step back a bit, and I don’t allow myself to focus on every imperfection. And even with the deficiencies in view, I have a strange gratitude.

When I was in college there was this guy–an international student–who would always try to pick me up (along with countless other women) by using the unforgettable line: “Aahh… now you have child-bearing thighs.” He continued to use the opener, even though I’m sure the look of horror on my face could translate across all cultures.

But I think of the words now, and they have new meaning. They still make a deplorable pick-up line, but I smile when I think about them. My belly’s never been flat, but now wonder has replaced the self-hatred. I have more fascination when I look at it. Mine was never supposed to be flat. It was supposed to be the place where my daughter was formed. It did its job well.

And the grace extends to the interdependence of my being.

I remember first reading Karl Barth, the words moved me deeply as I began to understand God as an act, more than a being. I had a childhood full of harsh, abusive images of God as an angry patriarch. But as I read, I learned to release my vengeful noun for loving verbs. I began to relate to God’s self-description, “I am who I am.” Even more than that, I embraced to the beauty of the words, “God is love.” I started to understand that the very being of God is ever-flowing action.

While growing into adulthood, I longed for independence. But just as I came to that freeing understanding of God, I learned that my own being is made up of action. I can no longer be myself without the interdependence of community–the connection of friends and family–because that’s where love abounds. I understood that just as I am in the image of God, so my being is made more full in doing, in loving and being loved.

And on this Eve of the incarnation, I feel another shift, as the nouns and verbs are beginning to mix together. God’s skin allows God to walk among us, to get entangled in the human messiness of love, with all of its passion and betrayal. And as love takes on bone, I can begin to understand the beauty of imperfect flesh and the allure of living in complicated community.

photo’s by nerdvin


16 thoughts on “Another year passing

  1. Grace and I just bought your book.

    I have some stories about the child bearing hips guy that I will share in the future.

    I really enjoy reading the blog.

    Elsa is in rare form today- got a baby and a baby buggy- off to the races.

    All the best in 2008.

  2. Jesse, I’m feeling like a jerk because I didn’t send you a copy… If you want to skip to the good part, you (and Elsa) are on 121-123. I wish I could see her! But, I’ll be there in July, if not before… Take care!

    Thanks, lj.

    Ryan, the top music videos of the 90’s? That is a reason to mourn! What was on top?

  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit was number one….not that I was watching too….

    Happy (now belated) Birthday!

    We got our copy of Tribal Church from Amazon over the weekend. (The problem with the “cart” feature is that we put off orders until we get free shipping!!)

  4. Happy Birthday! Life just gets better as you move toward forty, which I’m sure you will do with the grace that is your characteristic. Have a great holiday, too.

  5. Dude! I remember where I was when I first heard that song, SLTS. It changed my life!

    I think that Mudhoney was a better band than Nirvana. Nirvana was just so powerful in the moment.

    Carol I think that the music of our Gen should be part of your next book!

    They forgot “Pure Energy” by Information Society. Tell me what’s on your mind…Pure Energy! dont dont dunt dont dont duh duh da dadd

  6. Happy Birthday a few days late. And a Merry Christmas…

    When I turned 36 I was sober a few years, and I guess I had started to mellow. That was in 2003, I also began a University career in Religious Studies, which I now carry a degree. Today at age 40, I am a Pastoral Ministry Candidate much has changed for me from 36 to age 40.

    Staying sober, staved off the ‘mid life crisis’ I think for myself. I began to know who I was from the inside. I think ministry does that to you after while. I really enjoy reading your blog.


  7. Ryan…sadly…the only thing I wrote about music in TC, was that I admitted to listening to Jesus Jones (in the “Where Are They Now?” file…).

    SLTS was pretty life-altering for me as well. I often wonder…when churches put “Come as you are” on their signs, do they know that we have that tune in our minds for the rest of the day?

    My two top songs for this year are:

    (1) Myriad Harbor by The New P–‘s (hmmm….if I spell out the name will I get a bunch of google searches that I don’t really want? The name came from Jimmy Swaggart who said that Rock and Roll is the new p–).

    (2) The Fragile Army by The Polyphonic Spree

    Jeremy, Thanks for reading the blog. I enjoy yours as well! It’s good to hear that 36 to 40 is a time of change–something to look forward to. And I couldn’t agree with you more, a gift of ministry is that we begin to know who we are from the inside…. So does sobriety, I think. Congratulations on so many years.

    Thanks Diane!

  8. Wow, this is a lovely reflection, and thanks for the reflection you brought to me. Thirty-six: it was 1988, and I was newly married (an unwise match, but I was ecstatic at the time) for the second time. I had lost my daughter 5 years before, and that wound was still gaping, though I didn’t really know it. I was in the midst of my first, successful round of Weight Watchers, and had shed 40 lbs that had been troubling me for some time. So I was thin and beautiful, wildly in love. I was about to graduate from social work school, intent on gradually building up a private practice and making the transition from agency work for the previous 10 years. The next year I would return to the Episcopal church (after 21 years non-practicing, except 7 years as a Unitarian) — and couldn’t yet even IMAGINE that I would feel called to ordination! It was a VERY liminal time, and I’m happy to recall it just now, in this liminal time that New Year’s always is!

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