When I was a freshman in college, I first heard Simon and Garfunkel’s ground-breaking album Bookends. In addition to iconic songs like “America” and “Mrs. Robinson,” there was a lesser known track, “Old Friends” that contained the words:
Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Even then, I was struck by that line, wistfully thinking/wondering/fearing what it would be like to be seventy. Well, today I know. And while my shoes don’t have round toes and I spend very little time on park benches—it is true, I am seventy today. In some ways, Paul Simon is right—it is terribly (and wonderfully) strange to think of how long I have been alive, how much I have seen and done, how the world has changed.
It’s been a great run, really. I’ve been blessed for these seven decades with incredible parents and while my Dad passed last year at 95, my Mom continues to offer incredible hospitality and unparalleled culinary dishes. More important, she is an inspiration (scroll down here to see “Arlene” in the comments section of a recent post—yep, that’s my Mom—defending children, of course!). My wife Blythe is my “true companion” as we promised two decades ago and I am surrounded by a loving family—four generations in all. I have been blessed. Life is good.
I have loved my work and—hopefully—done some good along the way. Yes, there are dreams that have gone unfilled, things have gone undone and I have made mistakes. But on the whole, I begin this 70-year reflection with profound gratitude for all that has been…and for what I hope is still to come.
The world is more interrelated than ever and these weekly postings are my way of connecting with friends I’ve made throughout the decades and trying to make sense out of the time in which we live—a time of unprecedented change and a relentless barrage of headlines that leave us exhausted and reeling for plumb lines of stability and order. I look to the November elections with hope that we might right this ship and bring peace, justice and human dignity to all with whom we come into contact—personally and geopolitically.
And then, against the backdrop of the World Cup, yesterday I received a birthday present from a most unexpected source as another soccer team stole the headlines from their more renowned fellow athletes. An international rescue team safely extracted all twelve boys and their coach trapped for more than a week on a tiny ledge in a cave in northern Thailand. I was riveted for days, but I confess I was filled with dread as the drama slowly unfolded. The lifelines were too fragile; the obstacles too great. And yet, they were rescued! What an amazing effort by a massive crew from across national lines and professional disciplines. Happy Birthday!
Just this morning, news started to filter out about tension at this week’s NATO meeting, to be followed by President Trump’s visits to England and Russia. I’m certain that there will be much to write about—and to hear from you—in the days to come. But for now, I take a moment to reflect upon the blessings of my life and to encourage each of you to do likewise. I thank God for all I have been given—more than I could ever have asked for or imagined—and I am reminded that “from everyone to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48)
So, as physical, mental and emotional capacities inevitably diminish over the next 70 years(!?), I will strive to live out this biblical mandate, for my blessings are far from running their course, and there is no shortage of things to do.