"Birthdays" - Monday Moment - June 20, 2022


There is no lack of potential material for today’s Monday Moment. Today the United States celebrates Juneteenth with a day off work and likely corporate platitudes about the “dark past” advertised with no intention of either acknowledging continued systemic racism or working to dismantle racist systems. It’s approximately the middle of Pride Month and we just wrapped up Columbus Pride. Eager advertisers at companies with questionable giving histories are eager to replace rainbow logos with patriotic red, white, and blue. And even though I’m writing this 10 days prior, I’m now on vacation with my family and we’re on an island with spotty WiFi where I’m taking a break from social media and email. Rather than reflect on any of those themes, I want to reflect on birthdays because today is mine.


Growing up there were certain birthdays everyone looked forward to: turning 10 and being “double digits;” turning 13 and being a teenager; turning 16 and getting a driver’s license (no comment); 18 and finally being a “legal” adult; 21 and being able to legally drink alcohol. I celebrated my 20th birthday in Sewanee, TN, with watermelon and vodka cocktails (not recommended) and had five old gay men buy me rounds in Washington, DC, on my 21st birthday. I struggled with my 30th birthday. I felt old and unhappy with where I was in my life and what I was doing. Now at 35, I have an amazing job, doing exactly what I want to do, working with amazing people, and I realized my goal of earning a doctorate before I turned 35.


Birthdays are strange events for any number of reasons. When we’re young they mark our progression to some sort of greater understanding that supposedly comes with adulthood. When we’re older birthdays make us recall our past and think for the future. It seems that when we’re older still birthdays become achievements having made it one further year. Even if you are a person who doesn’t particularly like birthdays, it’s easy to think back to other birthdays and what you might have liked to change between that birthday and now.


I’ve been asked many times if I would change things if I could. Knowing what I know now would I go to a different college? Probably not, but I might not found have found the Episcopal Church which has become such a part of my life. Would I have gone to the same graduate school? No, but then I never would have joined Phi Mu Delta and found many friends who have enriched my life immensely. Would I have left my job at UNC-Chapel Hill after only one year? No, but then I would never have discovered Middle Collegiate Church in New York City which drew me back to Christianity and proved to me that Queer people could be celebrated by the church. No, there are in fact very few regrets I have about my past and that’s why I love my birthdays. Birthdays remind me that even though my life has had ups and downs, overall, I’m living a life with purpose and mission of which I can be proud.


Do you have any regrets? Why those regrets? Could you do something now to give purpose to those regrets?


Let us pray: God, bless each of us with many birthdays. Give us the grace to see you moving in and through our lives. Show us the good that come from even those moments we might regret and lead us to understanding our regrets as part of your plan. Amen.


Blessings, my friends, on your weeks! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you!


Faithfully,


Ben