Who have you become?
Conventional wisdom would have you expect consistency as you age, the return of a recognizable self as each new birthday approaches. Part of each birthday is a prompt to acknowledge goals reached within the past year or perhaps subtly modified.
In the collection of psalms called the breviary, there is a serious note sounded on Friday of each of the four weeks into which the psalms are divided. Regularly for someone praying with this volume, after the lulling rhythms of day to day, just when you think you know what to expect from the prayers, a Good Friday scene is set. There is again a passion and death to recall, there is the real possibility of free fall within a human life.
At the end of some weeks, that Good Friday mood in the breviary can feel abrupt, disruptive, needlessly somber. Not always, though.
Tonight was going to be a theatre night. A friend with whom I worked years ago had contacted me two months ago and proposed a drive into downtown Boston this Friday evening. A production based on the Metamorphoses of the Roman poet Ovid would be starting its run. Former Latin students, we each understood the other as the ideal companion for this Friday entertainment. We had selected a Malaysian restaurant close to the theatre and planned to meet there at 6:30 and catch up on the news.
His call this morning struck a serious note. One of his young daughters was going back into the hospital today. A long-term condition that had appeared to be improving re-appeared in the last round of tests. Taken anew out of the weekly rhythms of school and work, my friend and his wife would be by their daughter’s hospital bed the next three days.
They would be practicing hope again, each awaiting the return of a recognizable life.
In two weeks I reach another birthday. Some years it may be good enough just to turn on a lamp at day's end and recognize most of what I see.