My 40th birthday is in two weeks. This has prompted many people to ask what my big plans are. I will not lie, I have thought about this. You're supposed to do something big for milestone birthdays, right? A trip, a surprise party, gathering of friends from far and wide. All of these things sound lovely, and my husband and friends have asked. But I just didn't have it in me to plan a grand celebration, and also didn't really know what I wanted anyhow.
At this particular moment, I'm quite thankful to be around to start another decade, and in general, just to be present. This messed up world reminds us of this on a daily basis. I've changed during this last trip around the sun. Part of that awareness is knowing that I have an insatiability -- that no party, no trip, no celebration was ever enough for me. That my first 40 years generally involved wanting more and then never being happy when I got it. More success, more things, more pieces of cake for special, special me.
I am special. So are you. And that guy over there -- he's special too.
I did want to do something to mark this transition. Because I am still here. This past year broke me open. Hospital rooms and over caffeination, disappointment, car accidents and loss. Still, new friends, stillness, the letting go of any pretense of my 20s and 30s..
At 40 there are second chances, new projects yet to be entirely birthed, and the ability to look at myself in the mirror. Proud of that girl.
So for the gift: I bought myself a Giving Key necklace. The ones made by people transitioning from homelessness in LA. Each key has been repurposed and engraved with a word. When you buy or receive one, you are supposed to hold on to it until you meet someone who needs it more than you.
For my 40th birthday I bought this thing I could cherish for a while, something to mark this season of life. The inscribed word came to me on a drive home: "Effatha." It means "to be opened." It comes from this story in the Book of Mark:
"So Jesus took him aside privately, away from the crowd, and put His fingers into the man's ears. Then He spit and touched the man's tongue. And looking up to heaven, He signed deeply and said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!")
Immediately the man's ears were opened and his tongue was released and he began to speak plainly."
"Effatha" is a translation. I heard it in a sermon last fall, and posted something to Instagram: "Effatha means to be opened." When I posted it 44 weeks ago, I knew it meant something, but not sure what. When I posted it, I was at one of my lowest points.
Now I know what it means. As I turn 40, it is an answered and continued prayer. To be broken. To be opened. To open.
Nate said, "Well yeah, Mom, keys open things." I hadn't even thought of that when I had it engraved on a key. Smart kid. Brilliant grace.
Effetha means to be opened. To be forgiven. To be held up and covered and encouraged. It is the greatest gift of all.