One day last week was my parents’ birthday. As you read that sentence, you may have made the same correction in your mind as did sales clerks when we as children tried to buy their gifts. “Oh, you mean their anniversary,” they would say with a “knowing” smile. “No, their birthdays—they were born on the same day, a year apart,” we would explain.
During my morning prayers I thanked my parents and I thanked God for their having me, caring for me, nurturing me, and encouraging my independence. The previous Sunday, speaking on “What Death Has Taught Me about Life,” I had pointed out that, despite their deaths many years ago, they continue to teach me. Some new experience or wisdom will come my way, and the proverbial light bulb will go on over my head, “Oh, that’s what Mom meant! Or that’s what Dad felt!” I noticed recognition of that experience on the faces of several in the congregation.
I used to send Mom flowers on my birthday, following the practice I learned from a friend. After all, she was the one who did the labor that made it possible!
On my own birthday last fall, I began thanking God for my parents, siblings, cousins, nephews, grandparents, aunts and uncles, Jesus, God, faith, and so on, and then I continued, thinking of all the people who had shaped me—lovers, friends, neighbors, church members, clergy, political leaders, communities, movements, environments, etc. A morning meditation became a day-long and then week-long reverie remembering all who touched my life in meaningful ways. The list became REALLY long when I began naming teachers! And then, authors!
I can never claim to be a self-made man, thanks be to God!
Who all made you?
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