Birthdays are for celebrating, certainly, especially the big ones.  Early on they are rites of passage and later markers along the way, every one of them a gift of time and, God willing, then some. They are a time of song and of gratitude and for treasuring memories of the journey which, for most celebrants, are mostly the best ones.

But birthdays are also times of introspection; maybe not the early ones that have dreams of driving, drinking and taking on the world come true, but surely those closer to the shorter end of time. The songs of youth have their own tempo, with lyrics reflecting energies and ideals that will touch and change the world. Those of an older age have a softer beat and sing of wisdom grown to, dreams fulfilled and an unknowing finally embraced:

This piece of time is simply that – a shard from the very beginning of things,

 encompassing me for a mere moment;

nothing more. In this place

I find my self between after and before,

being here and now, simply that.

Why ponder what is past

or wonder what may come?

I am like every other whose piece of time

offers but a moment’s breathing

away from eternity.

With this gift I must speak my meaning,

make sense somehow

of all the questions that define me,

if only by living into them,

respecting the mysteries that keep me moving

through this place, this piece of time,

faithfully toward

the only answer I will forever need to know.

Not a sad song but a human one, of hope and fulfillment that points the way to still another birthday. Aging was never meant to be the enemy of wholeness, just a way of getting there.

Birthdays happen best when they celebrate time as gift and remind that life at every stage is music to be sung, to be lived.

 (Maybe you have guessed: I turned 75 yesterday.)