In the Pfalz, it is already the 25th. It has been that way for a couple of hours. Very soon dawn will break over these German highlands and I will think of that. Around the time I wake up around 5:00 a.m., it will be 11:00 a.m. there. At that moment I will have been given 49 years of a charmed life and immeasurable grace. And as the day progresses, I will receive the well wishes of a few.
I can’t say I am fond of my birthday, though I am not unfond of it either. It is just there has been so much joy on so many other dates on the calendar. I wish I could recount them all, but that would take far too much time.
The day does have meaning, though. It is in the summer and that counts for something. I always think I have been fortunate to first to see the world with everything alive and in bloom. We summer babies do have what others do not. And I was born in a place well suited for the summer….little Palantinate hamlets nestled among hills with quaint churches and homes. Every summer walk I take and every town nestled in a valley recounts this for me.
I think my story should have been no story at all. Part of that is too personal to recount here, but on paper my father and mother had every reason not to be with one another and my birth also required considerable courage. I often think of how I could ever repay this. The truth is I cannot and I have done a rather poor job at the task anyway, though I do have my moments. To have been born at all would be more gift than I deserve and yet I have been given so much more. If my life were required of me at this moment, I know I would have still had the joy of two lifetimes. I can recall the perfect days. One was even on my birthday (that was 1994) and there were many others. Most were in the summer.
I will soon rest knowing that 49 years ago my mother had a most unrestful night. I will be thankful for her courage to give me life. I will be thankful that so many others made my life one of incredible joy and beauty. It will be as if the Pfalzerwald was given only to me as well as the Ferris wheel, the beaches on the Atlantic, the caves of Kentucky, lakes in Wisconsin and Ohio, Midewin, the Rockies, and the Azores. I will also be thankful for the people to whom those places are attached who prove as beautiful as creation is; the creature is more beautiful still. And I will be thankful to God, who gave the world the creation and the creatures that have been so much to me.