It’s my birthday. Traditionally, I spend my birthday mourning the fact that nothing ever seems to end up quite how I plan it, people let me down, I am still nowhere near purpose, and everybody seems to think it is a day worth pointing out.

Today is different, though. I could bore you with the details about what I’ve done, what I will do, and why it is all important. Instead I will write only on the important parts.

Jami and I went to the annual tea held at my church to raise money for the women’s ministries. There is a darling older lady I have been meaning to get to know beyond the occasional hug and “great to see you.” This morning provided a great opportunity to probe her for parts of her story; for the details needed to begin to see her through my own eyes, for her to be someone in my life and not just the life of someone existing near mine. She is a beautiful, faithful woman and it was a blessing to merely sit near her and receive her words. To contrast that, my youngest friend, Bramwell, showed up for a little bit with his mom. As he sat on my lap and laid his head against me, I held him and felt so thankful for him. There I sat, next to someone who has seen so much, and holding someone who has so much to see – and I do not lean more one way or the other.

Upon returning home, I went upstairs and opened the book I’m currently reading – A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle. I began to think about how greatly her writing influences me. Frequently I disagree with her and roll my eyes and wonder how a woman with so much wisdom could say things I cannot agree with, but more often I find my heart leaping and I wish she was still here to receive my letter, to give new insights to the struggles and questions we both seem to wrestle with; humility, love, creativity, self, ONTOLOGY.

This brought me to my computer, to research the things she writes about, to discover my own sense of understanding of them. What a beautiful gift, to come to a conclusion for yourself that only stirs another person to want to find their own conclusion, even if it does not line up with theirs. Through a series of unimportant events, I found myself thinking about my 4th and 5th grade teacher. The same person, Mr. Gifaldi.

I used to fill out those MySpace surveys and never know what to say for the prompt “Favorite teacher:” . Do I write about the American Pop Music teacher I had at Shoreline who taught me a greater appreciation of the history of what I listen to? The science teacher I had throughout high school who made me laugh and put up with my nonsense? My science teacher in middle school who taught me so much about being a respectable person in addition to a good student (I never caught on to the latter)? Now I will say that I’ve concluded the answer to that prompt is my 4th and 5th grade teacher, who allowed me to be creative, who believed in me, who made me laugh and think and who also taught me long division (which happens to be something I love to do, even to this day).

It was this teacher who also first had me read A Wrinkle in Time, by my beloved Madeleine L’Engle. This is an easy answer.

Today is my birthday, and I am so thankful for the past 24 years. Here’s to 24 more.

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle


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