Life at any age opens the doors to the many possibilities ahead

            If you are sitting on your porch, enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon while reading this week’s edition of the Northwest Indiana Catholic, you’re probably reading this on my birthday, June 21. Getting older used to bother me, especially when I hit (don’t laugh) 25. I freaked at the thought of hitting a quarter of a century; now it makes me laugh…3/4 of a century isn’t too close but it’s not out of reach.

            I’ve found the easiest way to get through birthdays is with a well-balanced mix of resignation, joy and anticipation.

            Resignation isn’t sad; it doesn’t need to be dismal. Resignation is coming to terms with the fact that growing older is the way of nature. We incrementally get older with each breath we take and there’s no stopping the process, no matter how resistant we might be.

            Numerous authors have noted that life is just a nice way of referring to the dying process. Several authors have suggested that from the moment we are born, we begin to die. I prefer this quotes by 19th century author Bret Harte: “We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning.” I would like to think the writer meant that when we are born, we immediately start our journey back to God. I find that comforting, don’t you?

            If that’s true, if this is what we believe, then we should anticipate each birthday with joy - joy for the life we’ve been given. Burdens and crosses lie across all our shoulders but maybe, even if we never do it on any other day of the year, we should spend time with God on our birthdays giving thanks for all the joys in our lives.

            Once, while giving a morning of reflection at a parish, I walked around, chatting with attendees during the break. Someone brought to my attention that a lady at their table was celebrating her 78th birthday. Wishing her well, I asked what joyful things did the future hold for her. The answer? “Nothing, I’m just growing old, waiting to die.”

            Everyone laughed but her words made me stop and think about how I approached my own birthdays. How sad it must be for those who choose to face each birthday with dread, seeing that day, or each day of life for that matter, as one step closer to the end rather than a precious gift to be used to the fullest as we work our way back home.

            Which brings me to anticipation… While there might have been a time in my youth when I feared what it would be like to be old(er) (remember never trust anyone over thirty?), I now purposefully try to experience the beauty and gifts of the age I am currently at. What is intriguing to me now is most likely not what drew my attention when I was 24. No matter our age, there are things to learn, avenues to explore because, I believe, God wants us to use the gift of each day of life to the fullest.

            Consider the quote I cited above: “We begin to die as soon as we are born, and the end is linked to the beginning.” Through the saving grace of Jesus, our inevitability of death is not the final act, but rather it brings us back to our beginning, our life with God. That’s a lot for which we can be hopeful.

          Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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