by Ken Rolheiser
Happy Birthday wisdom to you

One day a religion teacher said to the young children: “Today I must tell you about someone whom you all must meet. He’s a person who loves you and cares for you, even more than your own family and friends. He’s a person who forgives you, no matter how often you do wrong. No matter what you do wrong, he’s always ready to accept you, to love you, and to understand.”

The teacher noticed a little boy getting more excited as he talked. Suddenly the boy could hold back no longer. He blurted out, “I know the man you are talking about. He lives on our street.” (from Homilies for Everyday Life by Fr. Rudy Novecosky)

Now what would we not give to be the man in this story? Since Adam and Eve started raising Cain, birthdays have afforded us the greatest opportunity to focus on our lives and our purpose.

Old enough to ride a bike, old enough to drive, old enough to vote, old enough to graduate, old enough to get married, old enough to… and our wisdom grows. Then we start learning about deeper meanings in life.

“There's a silver lining to being a cancer survivor. People said to me, ‘Are you freaked out that you're turning 50?’ Hell, no.  I'm thrilled to be turning 50.” --Fran Drescher

“Real birthdays are not annual affairs. Real birthdays are the days when we have a new birth.” --Ralph Parlette

And to get us on the right track - “I intend to live forever -- so far, so good!” --Stephen Wright

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.” George Burns

I would like to share some of  Steve Jobs' final realizations and some of the last words he shared with us: “At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

“…God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth. The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on…

“…Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down. Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat yourself well. Cherish others."

In “Health, wealth and a wonderful life” Father Brendan McGuire says, “What I can promise you is a life well lived will be a fulfilled life. A life full of joy and that no matter what happens in your life, you will be able to sustain life.

“You will be able to still remain joy filled despite the stuff that happens to us; despite sometimes the calamities that happen to us because in the end, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”

(550 words)