Turning 43 yesterday didn’t seem imposing or fretful in the least. Or it didn’t until shortly after lunch. It was around that time when a series of inconvenient truths managed to decry my optimism, undermine my celebratory notions and deflate the air of hope and expectation I held. Hey, I’m entitled. It was my birthday. So there I was going down in flames around 2:30 p.m. as life’s curve balls were gliding over home plate in rapid succession. Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. I’m out.
It seemed unfair and underserving. I’ve paid some dues the past year. Or I thought I had. It’s been a challenge for me to be 42 years old for the past twelve months. More challenges and hurdles than I had planned on engaging became my close circle of friends. But I survived. And, as of late, promise and opportunity have crept into my soul’s nooks and crannies. Light seemed to be showing a low to medium wattage of illumination. So why such misery and despair on my birthday? Why me? Why today? (Just checking; did I forget to ask, “Why me?”) WHY ME?
My mind was racing to find a blessing beyond the everyday, often dismissed ones such as food, shelter, a home and family and friends who care for me and about me. Those go without saying so they really don’t count, right? I needed a blessing to counter such indulgent self pity. I needed an uber blessing. Something extreme. Something worthy of its own primetime reality show. How does Extreme Blessing sound? Or, Blessing Makeover? Blessings on a Dime? So You Wanna Be A Blessing? (Are you listening NBC, ABC or CBS? ) My mind, still functioning with relative ease and seamless discovery, even at 43, found one. A blessing, that is. A gift. A lesson.
I met a foster child this weekend. A six year old girl who, along with her two younger brothers, was spending the day at the beach. Softly spoken and with an unassuming presence, she had the unique ability to find things on the ground. She found a penny in the most obsure place. She found a thread hanging gently on the arm of a chair. Next came a sandspur burrowed in the carpet’s weave. And the exploration and discoveries continued all day. I could see a forensic pathology career waiting for her. An investigative mind was at work and on alert. What a knack she had for finding the proverbial needles in haystacks. I marveled at her skill and wondered out loud, “How does she do it?” Silently, the answer came to me: “Why wouldn’t she do it? She’s lived her short life with her head held down.”
Her eyes have witnessed the landscape upon which she walks more so than the landscape which hovers above. Shame, hurt, and fear have given rise to this so called talent that requires she look down. Of course she can find things on the ground. The ground has become her view of the world. She knows it better than most.
I found my blessing by looking into this child’s life. I hold my head up. Not downward. I see stars. I see clouds. I see the sun. I see the universe above and around me containing life’s mysteries and wonders. And blessings. By looking up, I can find hope. Possibility. Dreams. I’ve become more accustomed to these things as opposed to threads, crumbs, and particles of little significance or value. I’m not sure this little girl, with her chin held low, ever sees the same things I do. Soon, I hope she will. One day. She deserves to. And I’m gratefully reminded of what blessing is in front and around me everyday – life.
I found my blessing on a memorable birthday – a birthday that threatened its generous gifting of self pity. To that little girl and to myself, I say, “Chin Up!”