I have been a part of the audience for a variety of milestones over the past ten days.
I went to Sam's funeral. I knew Sam a little bit for a long time. I never knew him well, but as is often the case with parents of good friends, he appeared at various times in my life. I did not really know much about him.
I love Christian funerals. I know that sounds morbid to many and downright weird to many others, but, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, if we Christians cannot celebrate at a funeral of a brother or a sister, then we are above all people to be pitied. At Sam's funeral, I saw his faith displayed in a dozen ways, and I heard my story in his story. I mourn with his daughter Sheree - it is not fair for her to lose both her parents in less than three months - and I weep with Mark and the girls. But I left there reaffirmed once again that the end is really the beginning.
I got Amy's graduation invitation in the mail. She graduated the day after Sam's funeral. Couldn't make it to Cincinnati, but I have been to enough such ceremonies to know what I would have experienced. It was the end of Amy's college career, but of course it is really the beginning.
The next day was the last Sunday at our church for my pastor, Brett. He is leaving to start a new career. The church will find a new leader.
The same day, my youngest daughter Annessa was baptized. Though she has been a Christian for some time, her baptism came on Sunday. It is a symbol of many things, but I am old-fashioned enough that the symbolism for me is the King James Version - We are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life. The end is the beginning.
Both my daughters, Carolyn and Annessa, have had birthdays this week. One year ends, another begins.
There is nothing revolutionary in my seeing rebirth and new opportunities in the passing of milestones. I know I am not breaking any new ground in this blog.
Still, it is worth pausing to notice that life is not linear. Neither is it circular, for we can never go back to get a "do over" on the same path. I think that life is a spiral, much like a giant slinky. We go forward, we come back, we bounce around, and we start on a new path. Always upward, if round-about.
Sam's path has started the greatest turn he will take, hard as it may be for Mark and Sheree to see right now. Amy knows she is on a new path. Brett takes a deep breath and spirals on. Annessa and Carolyn really have no idea about this journey they are on, but they both know that Annessa's milestone under the waters last Sunday was an important marker.
When you get to be forty-something like me and go to the same job every day for years, it is tempting to forget to look for milestones. Maybe the lesson for me is that I am not on a treadmill or in a grind - I am on His path and following His lead. Maybe other people's milestones are really His signals to me - He is still creating and recreating and leading. I am not that much different from Amy and Carolyn and Annessa - I am His child.
So is Sam, coming home to his father's house. I celebrate that.