This week I succeeded in completing another “trip around the sun,” my personal year-long journey like the sun’s orbit around the earth. I could think of this as another birthday (which I do)…..but I could also think of it as my “continuation day” (which I also do). And what, you might ask (unless you have come across the term), is that?
The best description of the meaning of this term I found on a site called Going Outwards and Inwards: “…. matter cannot be created or destroyed it simply changes form. It’s more accurate to think in terms of continuation. Before I was born I existed inside of my mother and before that I existed within my mother and father and before that within my grandparents and onwards back within my ancestors. I am the continuation of an unfolding fabric.”
Thich Nhat Hhan, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, wrote that one’s birthday is simply a celebration of one’s continuation day. Every day is a continuation day. Perhaps we might call the birthday a “marker” of an ongoing process.
The older I become, the more I am intrigued with those to whom I owe my opportunity to “continue.” Whose lives do I carry on within my own? One life that piques my curiosity: my maternal grandfather, who died before my parents married. He wanted to be a minister. He studied at Oklahoma Baptist College (later University, which I eventually attended). He developed some kind of problem with his eyes and his doctor said he must quit his studies or he would go blind. Quite possibly it was something that today would be easily corrected. My grandmother, I only learned as an adult, was disappointed not to become a minister’s wife. She sent my mother to Ottawa Baptist College, hoping she would meet and marry a minister. But my grandfather died during my mother’s freshman year and she returned home and married my father, a linotype operator she had dated prior to going to college.
I was sent to OBU, where my grandfather had studied, with the same hope that my grandmother had had for my mother. I did not marry a minister. Yet after decades as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I felt drawn to study for ministry and became ordained three years ago. I wonder what Harley Ross Jordan would think of the granddaughter he never had the opportunity to know, who took up the vocation to which he had aspired but was denied. May I honor that legacy as I begin my next “trip around the sun.”
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: “We all exist as part of a wonderful stream of life.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear