40 Soon Dawns
As I journey into the weeks preceding my 40th birthday on Feb. 17, the goal of the "second half" of life seems to be a dual embrace of growing spiritually and serving others. Many other pursuits have been tried, some with success and insight and others more fleeting. Things seem to be simplifying, although pockets of complexity can be expected since life here is always lived in the concrete. My new job still feels quite complex, but with each passing day I sense the inner invasion of that disposition of spirituality and service. And it gets me excited and enables me to feel less like a task-master and more like a person again.
This "second half" obsession is simply my personalized way of framing my years. My father died at 80, I am about to hit his half-mark, therefore I assume I have 40 more years. I may in fact have only one more day or just 20 years or perhaps 65 years, but it is a helpful metaphor to frame the focus of my heart.
I love that number, 40, that biblical symbol. Moses tinkered around for 40 years in the fields before God called him through fire--only to wander with a stubborn nation for another 40 years to the brink of the promise land, where he died flawed but having seen in part the radiance of God. David served as king of Israel for 40 years, flawed but after God's own heart. Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days before publicly assuming his identity, having risen beyond the powers of temptation. Psalm 40, which I first heard about through my favorite rock group U2, declares the singing of a new song, and we are always in need of lyrical renewal.
And so I enter the year of 40 with optimism, on a spiritual quest, open to an ongoing outpouring of delicate but riveting threads between the arts of the necessary aims of leadership, seeking to nourish others through whatever has been fed to me. Jesus, Joseph Campbell, Frederick Buechner, my wife and children and many others will continue to be my teachers and mentors this year.