This week I celebrated what Carol calls my biblical birthday (more later). In my youth I remember attending 70th. birthdays with a mixture of wonderment that people had lived that long and boredom that there were so many other old people present. Well, having reached the same point I feel even more wonderment but absolutely no boredom!
Carol organized a surprise (and it really was) party on my birthday eve. Yes, eve - that's partly why I was not expecting it. Around 7.30 pm she announced that we needed to bring in extra chairs from the garage as she set about organizing an extravagant array of desserts and drinks. Apparently she had been quietly making preparations for some time but I in my normal oblivious state remained totally unaware. Sadly, our house will not allow us to cater for larger groups but when 14 friends began arriving I was really delighted. What's more Carol had the idea of inviting them to represent the last 35 years of my life. Before candles were blown out on my cake she invited certain friends in the circle to speak to the different connections with me. As she bluntly put it: 'Don't wait until he's dead!' It was potentially cringing all round but people generously rose to the occasion with words that touched me. I heard things I had forgotten or just did not know! (more later)
In reply I mumbled a few words of appreciation for them and expressed gratitude for their kindnesses. It was only later, talking with Carol, that I could succinctly say what this occasion meant. First, I told her how on this particular birthday I looked back with wonder and thanks at the journey the Lord has brought me on. It has been a full life with extraordinarily varied content. As a Baptist minister I am immensely grateful for God's purpose taking me through such experiences. Second, I told her that she had been his greatest gift transforming the last 48 years in wonderfully rich ways. Yet again she demonstrated her love and social gifting in organizing this surprise for me....I know how vastly impoverished my ministry and life would be without her. So, thank you to all who remembered - 29 cards are on display - and very big thanks to God and to Carol!