I slept in today...if you count 6:55 a.m. sleeping in. I felt I deserved a treat like that given that I turn 43 years old today. I could get another bonus if Cardiff City FC can topple Everton in their Premier League clash today (I have a thing for Welsh teams). There is some hum-drum today: I have to mow the grass after two quite dry weeks. I might want to do some grading so I'm not playing catch-up next week. But we are headed to Llywelyn's Pub in St. Charles for a birthday dinner, and I am going with my wife who loves me and my children who have been such a joy to my heart. There's a lot to be thankful for.
I tend to get reflective at watershed moments like these. I sometimes compare myself to others when they faced this age. Not in a jealous sense, where I'm thinking "That should be me." (People who exhibit that type of character should be avoided.) But in a thoughtful sense, as in, "It's interesting where different people are at the same stage."
At his 43rd birthday, my grandfather served three small Presbyterian churches as a pastor, a diligent endeavor that proved so busy that the family would move from Pennsylvania to Kansas in a few years. But Grandpa himself was busy completing the family quiver, because before he would turn forty-four, my father was born in the small Keystone State town of Mercer.
My father: At 43, he was finalizing the details and draft for his first book (first, that is, if you discount his doctoral dissertation), a commentary on the biblical book of Joshua. A pastor friend of his had just died and Dad was beginning to get contacted about transferring from where we were in Westminster, Maryland, to his friend's church in Baltimore. By the time Dad turned forty-four, we made that move. Of course, during the time Dad was forty-three, he saw me enter college, as well...a transition that we both handled well, I think.
At 43, Martin Luther finally became a father with the birth of his son, Hans.
At 43, St. Athanasius was exonerated of all theological charges against his at a synod in Rome. (Now that's something I don't expect in my life this year).
At 43, John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States. I must say we've had worse Presidents than JFK. His inaugural address is still one of the most inspiring pieces of literature I've ever read.
At 43, my mentor Dr. Louis Voskuil was entering his fifth year as professor of history at Covenant College in a tenure that would span about thirty years and influence countless souls.
At 43, C.S. Lewis was in the midst of his BBC broadcast talks to the British public, chats that would form the basis of his classic Christian apologetic work, Mere Christianity. To this day, it remains the greatest non-fiction work I have ever read.
At 43, PD James published her second Adam Dalgliesh novel, A Mind to Murder, part of series that would stretch all the way to when she turned eighty-eight in a life of sheer brilliance and genius.
Then again, at 43, Pete Rose returned to the Cincinnati Reds as player-manager. Sports fans know how tragically that turned out.
And Martin Luther King, Jr. and Blaise Pascal were well-known leaders and thinkers. But they never saw the age of forty-three, having died before they even completed four decades.
I'm not as well-known as the above listed individuals. Then again, I have published one novel, written three others, and am finishing up a fifth. I have a vocation that keeps me intellectually engaged and gives me some great professional relationships. I have a lot of friends, have benefited from a pair of wonderful parents, and most of all I have the most wonderful wife and children I can imagine.
Not bad for turning forty-three years old today. I have a lot to be thankful for.
I'm aging well. No complaints there.