On my 36th birthday

The hands of the clock meet with a gentle tick, it is midnight, my 36th birthday had begun. I clear my throat at my daughter’s bedside,  searching for the words of Amazing Grace, urging her eyes to close with my sleepy voice, gruff and wavering.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

“Mama, I’m scared,” she says, “I don’t know why,” she says, as I tuck the blankets around her chin.

’twas Grace that taught,
my heart to fear.
And grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed. 

I don’t tell her that I’m just like her, that I too wake up startled with the realization of how fragile my life is, haunted by the reality that the death I fear is guaranteed and the only question is how much grief I will endure between now and then.  I don’t tell her that each year the earth’s history contains more suffering than it did the year before or that she will one day lose everyone she loves.

I stroke her forehead. She squeezes her stuffed giraffe.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
’tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead us home.

36 years ago I was pushed into this world in a puddle of blood and cries of pain.  Yet I was greeted with the glistening eyes of my young mother, her arms eager to embrace me.

And I remember that joy is cumulative too, that suffering births hope. It is our nature to seek resurrection.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures.

Her eyes shut, I can see her long lashes even in the dim light. I tug my bathrobe tight around me and shuffle back to bed. I savor the sound of my husbands breath, I relish in the little girl now sound asleep who has more trust in me than I deserve. I pull my blankets up around my ears and slip back to sleep grateful for the new year ahead.


When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when we first begun.

36th birthday. Amazing Grace. Liturgy of Life


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