Approaching another birthday, a word to self

An ending and a leaving,
a beginning and an entering
another year
is a Janus-moment…
Janus, detail of the Nave ceiling art of The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence, Waltham Abbey, Essex, England

a swivel-headed instant
of looking backward to all that hath been
with, I pray, an eye sincere and clear,
(one that peers ‘neath the veneer of purported pleasantries
of failing, false memory
clothing the skeletal truth of abiding misery)
of looking forward to what might be
with, I equally pray, anticipation’s heart of hope.

Right now, my gaze is turned ‘round looking back
(looking forward left to ‘nother day)
and I find it hard not to see
what it is (how hard it is) to be

For I behold bottomless wells –
of the need
of acceptance,
of affirmation –
impossible to fill
e’en by the ceaseless confirmations of care
of those – family and friends – who bear
the weight, the burden of my longings,
my soul-deep hungerings insatiable
and thirstings unquenchable.

Who first dug these inward limitless troughs,
these holes in my soul
that no surfeit of kindnesses
can cover
that I, for all mine life and living
was left, first, to discover,
then to monitor
and from which there is no relief,
no lack of depth to fathom,
yet without fathoming the depth of grief?

Aye, it matters not “who first” –
be it by the movement of fate’s unruly happenstance
(otherwise known as ungovernable chance
and circumstance)
or a rueful inheritance,
the bequest of unresolved issues of generations past –
for this Mariana Trench-deep ocean of sorrow is mine and
mine alone.
ocean, underwater

As I consider this,
gales of unbidden laughter bellow up from below;
for though born in summer’s time
my livin’ ain’t been easy.


And, in this, I know (I’ve long-known) how
and why,
for some, the run of life
is o’er so damnably hard an unforgiving road
(running inwardly, interminably, inescapably)
that to hasten its end
is ne’er the vilest thing
to dream…to deem.


Picture: Janus, in ancient Roman religion and mythology, the god of the duality of beginnings and endings, entrances and exits, transitions and passages. Note: This depiction of Janus is a detail of the Nave ceiling art of The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence, Waltham Abbey, Essex, England.

6 thoughts on “Approaching another birthday, a word to self

  1. Hmmmmm. Happy Pre-Birthday Paul… I had to read this several times. Looking forward, looking backward at life… You’re so right that Life is sooooo hard at times, and no one can assess your life but you. That said, I believe that others always see in us more than we see in ourselves. You know how much you are cared for and loved, you even stated it here, but I get that it’s not always the same as what we think of ourselves. As Friday approaches, I pray that you find hope and joy as you reflect back on your pretty amazing career in the ministry and all of the people you’ve helped and comforted over the years. I hope you take time out from your reflections to have some fun on Friday. Know that I wish for you peace and contentment in the coming year!! And I pray that you continue to write and share your feelings with your followers through this blog, because on many occassions you write what some of us think and feel but haven’t said. As you often say to me…. Carry On!! and Happy Early Birthday.
    Much Love!


  2. Dearest Paul,

    My heart aches for you with this Janus-glance backward at the unforgiving road, the fathomless need. Know that you are heard, my friend, and held in reverence and in love as a precious brother soul, with whom I feel such kinship and affinity.

    I believe, beneath everything we think we know, we are held in the same cradle-boat, borne along by the same deep, rolling stream, rocked by the same warm winds. With Eternity and the Eternal we flow, beneath all our ordinary days and sometimes sleepless nights, with all that ever was and all that ever will be. We bring only the gifts of ourselves on this journey, the treasure that only we could bring, that could be entrusted to us alone. I believe it takes a lifetime, however long that happens to be, for most of us to learn to give that gift away – perhaps first needing to forgive those voices, those forces, some of them loving and kind, some of them cruel and hurtful, but who tell us in all sorts of ways that our gifts are not the right ones, not the needed ones, not the preferred ones – nevertheless at last to hold ourselves out in our own steady or shaking hands and say, “Yes, this, THIS ALONE is why I came, to give this, my gift, to this time, this place, this world, to bring what only I can offer, because the Universe and Eternity have need of it. I was sent for this.”

    I believe this is true, Paul, even in dark nights and deep pain, particularly in dark nights and deep pain.

    With deep love and great gratitude for the gift that you are and carry with such faithfulness, dear Paul. The Universe and Eternity have had and have such need of you.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. My dearest sisters Loretta and Karen, I cannot convey – it is not possible – to you, each and both, how much, how very much you and your love and support and encouragement mean to me, bolstering my sometimes flagging spirit, steadying my sometimes shaky and self-loathing soul. Thank you. Two simple words, yet laden with deepest meaning. Thank you.

    As I write, it occurs to me that with you, each and both, I know – sometimes even without a conscious thought – that I can write/say anything from my simplest to my sublimest (if I could muster such a thing!) idea and trust in your acceptance and caring reflections. Thank you for that, too!

    Loretta, I will carry on! Karen, I will try to perceive and believe that what and who I am is what and who I am, verily, all that I am and that I am worth offering that – myself, aye, my self – to and in and for and with the world.

    Love you,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Paul,

      No thanks necessary. Since the serendipity of my family’s meeting you and Pontheolla in June, 2016, you have been a presence in my life that I needed without knowing it – a fellow searcher/seeker/ questioner with whom I share uncanny likenesses in so many ways. You have given me joy, comfort, reassurance, encouragement, fellowship, laughter….. I could go on, but to say it simply, you have given me a friendship I have learned to treasure across all these miles. You connect me to deep and cherished roots of my faith, as I learn to interpret it in ways that remain vital and meaningful to me, although the language and the terms have changed. You also connect me to a place that is deeply a part of me, and you see that place with eyes and interpret it with a voice I can always trust to see and tell the truth with love and kindness without sugar-coating it. You share the frustrations and possibilities of living in this time that daily seems to be entirely out of kilter, and you speak endurance, patience, love, kindness and wisdom in the living of these days. In short, dear friend, you held out your hand to me with the gift of yourself, just as you are, and I continue to marvel at that gift, just as it is, and to be so grateful for it.

      I wish for blessing for you tomorrow on your birthday. I wish for you discernment morphing into peace and then ultimately into the quiet joy of knowing yourself to be a chosen and indispensable response to a deep need in the world.
      Birthday blessings, dear Paul.

      With much love,


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul,

    I echo everything Karen said!! After all what are frienilies for!!!??

    Happy Birthday PRA!!

    Love you to the moon & back!!


  5. Again, for I cannot say it enough, I love you two, Karen and Loretta…

    And not because of what you do for me, which is your measureless love and encouragement. But rather because of who you are, especially as expressed in your positive outlooks on life, which do not gloss over the difficult aspects of human living, but, nevertheless, remain bright beacons of hope for me.

    You have my endless gratitude.



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