Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 40.
I know it's supposed to be this milestone birthday. Forty. It used to sound old to my naive ears. But in truth, it's just another year. And I feel better than ever.
Every birthday, I spend time talking with God. Once you leave school, you don't really get report cards in life, so I feel like spending time with God is important. It helps ground me and make me understand what I need to improve and what I need to keep up with. He tells me what I'm doing right and what I should be doing better.
Sure, I pray every day and give thanks for all that God has given us. But these talks are different. They come from deeper within me. They come out not as full sentences...more like parts of my soul that whiff off like mist. God grabs those bits and processes them and returns them to me more complete.
Yesterday, I was sitting in the middle of the most beautiful botanical garden staring at all the foliage and flowers. I started my conversation then. I always know when it will start, because I well up. I can feel God's presence and just know that it's time to chat. So I immediately thanked Him for all that I could see. So many greens and colors. So much quiet. So much time and effort put into this beauty by loving hands.
Then I asked Him why? Why do we have all these beautiful things on earth? Why did he give them to us?
Some days it is so hard to see beauty because it is drowned by news or sadness. But when it is all around you, like in a botanical garden, you can't see anything else. It's almost blinding.
As I shielded my eyes from the beauty, He spoke an answer to my 'Why?':
"Because you deserve it," He said. "People deserve it."
The first thought I had was, "No, we don't."
But He replied with a smile and said, "Yes. You do."
It took some time for me to accept that. Why should we deserve anything beautiful when we do such bad things? We hurt each other. We corrupt the land. We pour smoke into the air. We hurt ourselves.
But we DO deserve good things, too. Because we ARE good. And we can BE good. And beauty is there if we look for it. It is everywhere.
Yesterday's beauty was so concentrated, it was hard for me to see anything else. But now I know to look for it no matter where I may be. Because it is there. And we deserve to see it. God told me so.
Yesterday was the best birthday I have ever had. The good news is I have said that every single year since I can remember.