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There have been a number of times in my life when I have had what felt like a sudden inspirational thought or maybe even an epiphany. One such time occurred at a surprise party Sue planned for my 50th birthday. It was time in the celebration for those attending to sing the traditional Happy Birthday tune and for me to blow out the candles. As I looked around the room full of family and friends, I realized an important truth in my life. What is most important to me are relationships: my relationship with God, my relationships within my family, and my relationships with friends.

Each of these sets of relationships takes energy to nurture and maintain. Sue and I returned last week from a 1500-mile road trip to Michigan. The driving force for the trip was the opportunity to visit my late sister’s husband, George, on his 98th birthday to help him celebrate. We brought a chocolate cake and # 9 and # 8 candles. George lives near Detroit in his own home (with 24-hour care). He is in reasonably good spirits although he chooses to mutter at times that he can’t understand why he has lived so long. In earlier years we spent many summers with George and family at their summer cottage in Canada. From Detroit we drove to Grand Rapids to visit my late brother’s widow, Deb. We don’t see these distant but close family members very often so the trip was very worthwhile even though there was a lot of driving. And, the face-to-face contact was very important to Sue and me.

I try to nurture my relationship with God by attending worship at St. Stephen every week that I am in town and at other churches while we are traveling. And, after I take communion and am back in my pew, I reflect on how grateful I am for the blessings of family and friends and especially God in my life.

So now, a “few” years after my 50th birthday, the important truth I uncovered at that party continues to direct my life. With the opportunities to share with others the many joys I have experienced and to lean on others during times of sorrow and need, what else matters?

Bob Linderman


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