Birthdays, Christian and Otherwise
Recently, I had the privilege of celebrating the fact that I have drawn breath on God’s Green Earth for a span of twenty-four years now. The day of my birth was ushered in by the scent of tasty things, the clash of foam and PVC weaponry, and the sound of shouting and thundering feet.
As I thought about my coming into Existence, I began to wonder, and to ponder overmuch the celebration of these and similar days. What are we actually celebrating when we wish someone a Happy Birthday? For most of my life I had understood it to be that we were happy the person was still alive and kicking, that Death had not yet claimed them. Something seemed amiss from the start of that thought. A little twinge of warning echoed through my psyche. You see, like so many other things in our hum-drum modern lives, we have thought like an Atheist about something it is very dangerous to think like an Atheist about.
As the old joke goes, “Happy Birthday, you’re one year closer to Death.” Our Culture of Death, as it so often does, pays homage to the power of the Reaper by frantically trying to ignore the signs of his oncoming stroke. I wonder, just how many of us blow out the candles and dare to think that we might be trying to turn something that rightly scares the crap out of us into a brightly colored burst of partying and overindulgence. I would wager the number is awfully small. No one likes to be honest about the reality of their Worldview, be they Theist or otherwise. At least, not one-hundred percent of the time.
Does it shock you, that I have done the equivalent of rolling a corpse into the middle of a happy family gathering? Birthdays, for those who do not believe in a hereafter, are, in truth, yet another attempt to ignore that Final Destination that awaits us all. Many will argue heatedly that the opposite is true that this is not so, that they celebrate a person’s accomplishment’s and the life they have so far lived. The thing is, that light, however bright, pales and goes out in the Infinite Void that accompanies Modern Thought. Once life is extinguished, there is no one left to hear any congratulations or well-wishes. Every Birthday hoorah is a hollow echo against the wall of a mausoleum.
And yet for those who believe, and I will simply say Christians, which of course in its truest sense means Catholics, Birthdays are exactly what they appear on the surface. We really can celebrate the brevity of the Mortal Coil, because it is put in the beautiful backdrop of the Eternal Revolution. We can celebrate a man’s accomplishments because they mean something. We can celebrate the Gift of Life because God has given him that gift. Like almost all Christian Celebrations, it is a time for praise, joy, and thanksgiving. To quote the Preacher-man from the Alamo movie that starred John Wayne as Davy Crockett, “That’s all the Lord gives any man. A time to be born and a time to die.” Everything else is just icing on that immense and wonderful cake that is a combination of Life and the Free Will that comes with it for Man.
Now that I’m done doing my own little bit of preaching, I have a favor to ask. While this blog is a nice place to put my thoughts where people can see them, and I do not require fame to keep posting, I think what good my words can do will be amplified if more people read them. So, I ask that you who read this guide but one friend to my doorstep, and I shall be thankful that you have helped me place the fruits of my harvest before the Lord.