525,600 Minutes

525,600 minutes 525,000 moments so dear
525,600 minutes How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In 525,600 minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

– from the musical “Rent”

Today is my birthday! I’ve now made 66 trips around the sun. I thought I’d engage in a bit of calculating, so I came up with a few things to measure. Over the course of the last 66 years I have: 

taken approximately 624,938,400 breathes

had approximately 2,081,376,000 heartbeats 

traveled approximately 39,142,756,950 miles
(38,544,000,000 miles for 66 orbits around the sun
plus 598,756,950 miles for 24,090 rotations of the earth at the 45th parallel,
which does not include whatever distances I crawled, walked, drove, and flew in the past 66 years)

lived in 11 states (some of them more than once), 18 cities, and 29 houses/apartments 

visited 38 states and 5 other countries

been touched by the lives of more people than I can count

been blessed to share life with three women,
been gifted with 7 daughters (none of whom I am biologically related to),
and 7 grandchildren. 

experienced overwhelming loss
and moments of pure ecstasy.

made more mistakes than I usually care to think about, 
and had occasions when I shone like the sun. 

In other words, to borrow a couple of lines from Jimmy Buffett’s song “He Went to Paris”, “Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.” 2,081,736,000 seconds seems like a long time to be alive, and yet not nearly long enough to share love with the people I care about. The good news is that I’m not done yet. In his book “Illusions”, Richard Bach put it this way, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: If you’re alive it isn’t.” So, for now, in this moment, as I begin my 67th trip around the sun, I’ll pause to celebrate my very great good fortune to be alive in this most amazing world, surrounded by such remarkably wonderful people. Happy birthday to me, indeed!

And, as a PS to this post, if you are inclined to give me a birthday present, I invite you to step outside your comfort zone and begin living into the grandeur of your own true self. Be bold! Be daring! Take risks! Try something you’ve always wanted to do, but fear held you back! Be fearless! Make a difference in the world in your own unique way! As Howard Thurman put it, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Knowing that someone read these words and then did that would be the best present ever!

Like Diamonds On A String

Today on my morning walk I saw four of our five planetary neighbors that are currently hanging in the eastern sky like diamonds on a string – Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus (plus the waning moon standing in for Earth) all in order. Mercury was hiding down near the horizon in the glare of the pre-dawn sky. The sight left me with a powerful sense of awe and wonder. All of those shining heavenly bodies are reflecting light from the Sun. And the distances are difficult to comprehend. The light I was seeing from Saturn left the Sun more than two and a half hours earlier. Even light from our nearest neighbor (the moon) left the sun more than eight minutes earlier. And the fact that I couldn’t see Mercury because of the Sun’s glare more than an hour before sunrise reminds me of how powerful our local star is, even though it is relatively small when compared to other stars in our galaxy. Then I spent some time pondering the cosmic forces at play which makes it possible for all of us to be orbiting the sun, and every eighteen years or so we come into this alignment with our neighbors. This particular alignment has only occurred twice before in my lifetime. As I said, awe and wonder were on the menu for me this morning. In the face of that sort of overwhelming awareness, it would be easy to feel small and insignificant and unimportant. But that sort of thinking would, in my humble opinion, be a mistake. I’ve made that mistake a lot over the course of my life, and it hasn’t served me well. The truth is that we are made of stardust, and the same forces I see at play in the dancing of the planets are at play in me. What might we be capable of if we embraced how amazing we are, rather than how weak and meaningless we sometimes think we are? I’m beginning to wake up, and my intention is to let my light shine. And I will try to remember that even if no one else sees my light right away, I’ll keep shining. Even the Sun’s light takes a long time to reach us when it bounces off Saturn first, but eventually it gets here. So, in this moment, I choose to allow myself to be fed and nourished by the awe and wonder of this Universe in which I find myself. And I choose to remember that I, too, am a part of it all!

Walking Into Beauty

On a recent “Morning Edition” on NPR they played an “Audio Postcard” from Brian Mann (“Spending a day on a forest path in the Silh River valley” – Click Here to listen) It was a beautifully edited piece that offered a lovely walk in the woods of Switzerland. I absolutely loved every bit of it, with one exception. At one point in the middle of his walk he said, “Absolutely nothing dramatic happens on this wanderung (walk).” I know what he meant, because he followed up that comment by saying, “But as I walk, moving at this slower pace in this beautiful place, the tug of deadlines and the busy world eases just a little.” But for me everything he was describing on his walk sounded powerfully dramatic. Not loud and hectic. No deadlines and conflict. Certainly not the stuff of newsroom drama. But dramatic in the sense of moving my soul. It seems to me that what the world needs is more drama like this.

Let Your Light Shine!

Yesterday it was Spring. Today it is summer. If you weren’t paying close attention to the date it would be easy to miss. The difference between yesterday and today seems pretty insignificant. But there really is change happening. We might not be able to see it, but something powerful is afoot. And the same thing is true in the living of our lives. Something powerful is afoot, whether we are noticing or not. I invite you to notice. It’s way more fun when we pay attention to what is unfolding. The earth is spinning on its axis as it flies around the sun, and in the process the seasons flow from one into the other. Our lives are in the same sort of Cosmic dance, and the transformation can be just as mysterious and just as dramatic as the seasons. On this longest (or shortest, depending on which side of the equator you happen to be standing at the moment) day of the year, it seems like a good time to remember that, like the seasons, we are forces of nature. There’s just no telling what we are capable of when we can manage to open ourselves to who we really are. Remember, the Life-Force of the Universe is flowing in you and through you. Let your light shine!

Let There Be Light

Let there be Light…

At the beginning of the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures the poetic author offers us a beautiful and inspirational glimpse of the world we live in. “God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) The Sacred Mystery, which we sometimes refer to as “God”, spoke the world into being. And then, just a few verses later, the author goes on to offer us an understanding of who we are as human beings. “Then the Holy One formed the Human One from the dust of the ground, and breathed into the Human One the breath of life, and the Human One became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) The same breath which calls the world into being brings us into being and continues to animate us and give us life. We have within us the power to speak reality into existence. We can call forth love, or we can call forth hate. We can call forth harmony, or we can call forth discord. We can call forth community, or we can call forth separation. Most of the time we have no idea how powerful we are. We walk around thinking we are small and powerless and insignificant. But that is simply not true, unless, of course, we believe that it is true. But when we can catch even a hint of a glimpse of who we really are then the world can be transformed. The very stuff of creation fills our lungs and empowers our living. There is power in our words, and we get to choose how we will use that power. I invite you to be bold and daring and extravagant as you speak an amazing new world into existence.