“What do you have that you did not receive?” 1 Corinthians 4:7
Today I turned seventy, and some have asked what it is like. I’ll tell you, it’s an experience of profound gratitude. I came wailing into the world on January 17, 1953, with nothing owed to me. And before I took my first breath an army was assigned to my care: doctors, nurses, administrators, dietitians and diaper-changers.
My first day of school, and the first day of my seventies.
The army expanded as farmers and pickers, truck drivers, and toy makers, jumped into the act to keep my little demanding self fed and entertained. Teachers and preachers, scout masters, school-staffers, den mothers and doctors swirled ‘round my young soul in a tango of training, a ballet of discovery in a world unexplored.
The dance grew with craftsmen and makers of pianos and flutes; of guitars and ukes, designers of autos and airplanes, and pilots who shuttled me to far-off places. There’ve been bakers of baguettes and clerks who sold them to me in lonely airports, and strangers who smiled at me when I was alone, or walked me to the bus station in a foreign city. Firemen and soldiers have guarded me while I slept, and symphonies have soothed me in times of distress.
Others joined quietly: unnamed coal miners, linemen, and gas-field workers who kept me warm and mobile, or kept the lights burning, authors and book-writers, artists and illustrators, balladeers, and inventors, Romantic composers and Renaissance painters who stood me before beauty, while sanitation workers and plumbers quietly kept the toilets flushing and the garbage at bay. Do you see the staggering complexity that has undergirded my life? I get lost in the thought of how many have fed me, nurtured me, inspired and sustained me . Keeping a soul alive for a week is Herculean. Keeping it alive for seventy years is a miracle!
I read recently that the little metal band that holds the eraser onto the end of a pencil requires no less than thirty processes, from mining and smelting to shaping and coating. Thirty processes! And that’s just for the band that holds the eraser!
My mind strains to think of vanilla-growers and chicken-pluckers, of road-pavers and engineers of bridges and tunnels, of builders and butchers, of packers and produce-managers, of cooks and servers and geniuses who keep the Internet online, shoe-makers, shirt-stitchers, of postal workers and barbers who keep the deliveries coming and my cow-lick at bay. It’s no exaggeration to imagine an army of millions has served and assisted me in this great dance of life. How fortunate to be the recipient of all this goodness!
And you, too, are included. Maybe you’ve danced with me for only an afternoon, or perhaps you’ve held me tight over the years. For your part, I am fiercely grateful. You have shaped me by your friendships, laughter, tears, and embrace, all woven together by an unseen Hand, who issues the invitation:
“Your Heavenly Father, His Glorious Son, and the Spirit of Life
request the honor of this dance”.
Profound gratitude. That’s what turning seventy feels like.
*(This post was inspired by The Great Dance, by my friend C. Baxter Kruger).