Birthday

Good Morning Brothers…

Birthdays can do weird things to a man. I remember when birthdays were important and regarded with great anticipation. Turning 21 was a milestone and turning 30 was like passing through the gate into real adulthood…after that…birthdays started to seem like the sand running out of the hour glass. Sitting in my treestand yesterday, on my birthday, I began to reflect on my life and this story emerged from the cracks and crevices of my mind.

“About 45 years ago, a Catholic girl in her late teens (or early 20’s) was trying to go to college and care for her 1 year old little boy. She was unmarried and still living at home. I can only assume that her parents were gentle and caring because they did not kick her out. The culture of the northwest in the late 60’s was a mix of the hippie – free love – lifestyle and the hard working blue collar loggers who walked the rainforest of Oregon everyday to earn their paycheck. Growing up Catholic in this culture, at this time, had to lay some serious guilt on this young mother of one. The Catholics at the time were still wrestling with the liturgy changes to Sunday Mass brought on by the Second Vatican Council of 1964. The liturgy was now in English instead of Latin, which was well received, but caused Catholics to question church tradition. One of the traditions many Catholics questioned was the use of birth control. The Pope, responding to the outcry, convened a panel to discuss the Church’s traditional stance. The panel recommended to allow birth control for the members of the Church, however, Pope John XXIII decided to hold to the Church’s traditional stance.

The country was being torn apart with the Vietnam war and the loss of innocence when the voices of Camelot; John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in a span of 5 years. Their message of equality, social justice, and hard work in service of your country was shattered at the sound of the gun. The times were certainly a changing, but in which direction was anybody’s guess. The stars were aligning in the venues of music, sports, and film. The words of Muhammad Ali, the actions of Jane Fonda, mixed with the lyrics of Bob Dylan until a revolution looked imminent. The problem was that the original voices of Camelot were dead and the revolution was leaderless. The 60’s movement dissolved into chaos, and evil and immorality ran amuck. The young didn’t trust the old, the old thought the young were crazy, and the Catholic Church was trying to protect tradition an effect change at the same time. I can only imagine what a confusing time it was to be a young Catholic girl caught in a cultural shift.

And then the unthinkable happened, she became pregnant again.

Where does she go for advice? Her parents…? Her Priest…? Her friends…? The State…? The Sisters…? Who…?

I ponder about the many nights she laid in bed, in the bedroom of her youth, with a 1 year old boy cradled in her arms while life grew inside of her. How many tears did she cry? How many prayers did she pray? Did she cry out to Mary, the Blessed Mother of our Lord for guidance? Did her fingers grow calloused from running them along her prayer beads begging for forgiveness and mercy? Did she weep in the confessional booth? Did she refrain from the Eucharist? Did she ponder suicide? Did she listen to her peers talk about all of the ways to get an illegal abortion?

I ponder…because this is my life mother. This is the woman who chose life for me. Not only did she choose life, but she chose the life I now have. She chose to give me up, in order that I may fulfill God’s plan for my life. Whoever the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit was…I’ll never know. But my mother chose to listen to the Spirit of God Almighty…and grant me life. I am grateful for her tears, her prayers, and her love. She loved me enough to grant me life. As I age, I reflect back on her choice and see the hand of God. Even with the distrust of the old, the peer pressure of her generation, the confusion in her faith…I see the light shining out of darkness.

I have never met, or even attempted to meet, my life mother. On this birthday, I think back to a confusing time, and send my prayers to God above for her. I may never know the specifics of her life at that time. But I am grateful to my life mother for her choices concerning me. I am also grateful to my parents who took me in and raised me as their own. In a time no less confusing, they chose me. They chose me and instilled a foundation of faith that continues to this day.

On this birthday…I am grateful.”

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