I turned 36 yesterday, and here were some thoughts that I had on my birthday:

How long do I wish to live?
The response that sprang to my heart was – “until my work is done.” I would love to be able to say with my dying breath, “consummatum est (It is finished)” (Jn 19:30). And yet, the longer I am on this pilgrimage, the more I am realising that my ‘work’ is not what I thought it was. I used to think of my work/mission as what I will do for God and others. As I grow in awareness of how powerless I am, I am learning that the one and only work that I need to accomplish is to know how to receive God’s love with complete abandon. God’s love is the all-consuming fire that burns away everything that is not love. Thus, when I have learned to abandon myself to His love completely, I will be ready to meet Him!

How do I feel about aging?
At 36 I’m hardly old, but it is still a fair question to ponder. I see aging as a beautiful gift for the soul. As the mind and body begins to slow down and deteriorate, I am reminded of how precious each moment is and that everything in this life is fleeting and changeable. Today I am relatively healthy and live very comfortably. All that could change in an instant. I cannot see what lies ahead, but I can live this moment well.

What I love most about growing older is increase in Wisdom. After all the painful life experiences of my youth has been transformed in the furnace of God’s love into wisdom, I am filled with gratitude and emptied of regret. Would I trade any of the wisdom and increase of love that I have gained for the untried ignorance of youth? Never! While I love my younger self more now that I have grown in compassion, I would never wish to return to seasons that have passed.

What am I most grateful for as I cross my mid-30s?
Self-knowledge and self-love. By that I mean the stripping away of the many masks that I had learned to wear from childhood, hiding my true self from everyone, even myself. It is a painful yet wonderful process of growing in inner freedom – to be able to behold myself with compassion and love just as I am; to be able to see the gifts and shadows with lessening pride and fear respectively… to be able to just BE.

What hopes do I have?
That I may come to be at peace in whatever life-situation I find myself in. That I will continue to surrender my will until I have no preferences contrary to anything bestowed upon me by God. That I will love Him not only in the easy times when I am obviously blessed, but even more in the hard times when gratitude seems impossible. This is an impossible feat and I have as little chance of making it as a camel going through the eye of a needle. But my hope rests not on myself but on the Lord for whom all things are possible (Mt 19:26).

…and the journey continues as I try my best to keep my eyes on Your face rather than my stumbling feet. I shall not be discouraged at the infinite distance between where I am in love and where I hope to be, nor will I be cowed by the fears of suffering that inevitably lay siege on my heart when I think of following You. I am Yours, and You are mine, and Your mercy is my hope.

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