Thursday, May 21, 2009

Birthday Reflecting

One trouble with blogging is deciding what to put in so public a forum. The past six months have been among the most spiritually significant of my life, but I'm not sure that this is the right venue for what I have written about that. But my 59th birthday is approaching in just over a week, so here are some lines reflecting.

This doesn't rise to the level of poetry, but does provide me for a medium to think on paper.

Birthday Reflecting

At nine I climbed rocks
The hills of Matopo:
Into the crack between the rocks;
Up to the bell that called to us all.
School there was, with memories;
But over and under all were Rocks,
Ancient and lasting Matopo Hills.

A young man in a new school,
Fourth school in four years.
A year later I remember myself,
Nineteen, second-year student, in and out of my element.
My first girlfriend;
Lost alone in the woods;
Soccer and theatre – more play than work.
Becoming so slowly a man.

Three years of teaching; four more running a folder
(Constant clatter of machine: paper and ink gets in your blood),
Now at twenty-nine a man: back in school, and far more
Married; Wife and Friend and Lover,
Still too new to know.

Father, a role to learn and discover;
At thirty-nine two sons call me
Father, and other names.
I remember, but memories slide away,
Too shy to let me see them clearly.
What at that moment was important?
Many roles – husband, father, friend;
Pastor, teacher, print shop labourer:
What really mattered?
Memories slide around the corner
When I look at them. I remember
Anticipating forty, the angst of aging.
I remember preaching, teaching, caring,
Loving, fighting, living: memories slide.
What matters? I did them.

Forty-nine. A new country, new job;
A new life as fifty looms.
The path led back to school at forty-one,
That bend ended two years later;
Back to pastor, church in a cornfield;
And after four years in the cornfield
With trains sawing back and forth:
Again a teacher, back to the present.

I come to now.
A number.
What matters?

God. Above all, beneath all, around all, in all. God.
Family: dearest companion; children grown.
Community: sometimes at school;
In the coffee shop and living room;
On the soccer field, across the chess board.

What matters?
Family, students, colleagues, friends,
Gathered community of people,
Bound together by the search for
Truth and life.
Truth, the Good, matters:
Family, friends, colleagues, students
Relationships make life.

Fifty-nine. I remember, and
Memories slide
Leaving a trace, a shape,
A desire for more
Life, and Truth, and Good, and
What matters.

21 May 2009


KGMom said...

Are the "9" birthdays toughest for you? Most reflective? 29, 39, 49 and 59? The last year in a decade?
Next year, 60. Wow.
Now, that makes me (at 64) feel old.
Looking forward to seeing you in July, and (hopefully) again in October.

Climenheise said...

Not so much the nines: that's just what happens to be coming up. Birthdays per se remind one of the passing years -- passing no faster for you than me, but you're still five ahead!