Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

"Take off your shoes Moses the place where you stand is holy ground."

I try hard to make sure this blog is not all about me. Deep in my heart I know that you don't want to
hear much about somebody else's stuff--good and bad and ugly. We've all heard enough about somebody else's victories to know that they usually make us mutter (to ourselves) "What's wrong with me? Why can't I have a life filled with drama, too?" Well--most of us are in the same boat. A little drama and much, much tedium in which we slosh through the days without much happening.

I could write about "how I have been blessed"--a term which I really hate. Everybody has been blessed--except the days when the birds fly by and drop their offerings on our heads. But I am not ready to hang it up quite yet--and it really has been a great run.

I had parents who did the best they could. I had a church that did the best it could. I've been harsh with both sometimes--and yet in old age I look back

and know I should be more than grateful. I learned about love in that little battalion we call family. I learned about mystery and even holiness in that all-too-human church. I learned about acceptance and joy and forgiveness from friends and colleagues along the way. I learned about the larger world from books and school and teachers and mentors. Whew--that covers a lot of territory.

I learned much more about love in my own little family of wife and two kids. Sometimes as a Preacher I look back on all those days that I was preoccupied
with Deacons and supposedly great church matters and grumpy people who kept me up at night. And my family got only part of me. But even with that they, too have been forgiving and loving despite whatever deep cracks I have in my plaster.

Called to preach? I guess. When I do not know. But one day I did say yes and I am so glad I did. I have met so many that have wowed my life. I have seen a
cadre of brave soldiers face incredible odds of all sorts. I've watched little kids grow up and flap their wings and do wondrous things.

Sure my heart has been broken by betrayals and people who I love that hold deep grudges I do not rightly understand. I have ached, like you, at assassinations, tsunamis, church fights, and politics that seem to be determined to tear everything to pieces. I have watched people--some call
little--I don't. But I have seen them try to get by on just about nothing. I have
given out dollars and sandwiches to homeless people. I have been ripped off by some pretty good con artists. And I grow weary of all the posturing and the power games and the greediness that has touched just about everything.

And yet--God is good. Believe it or not. I tip my hat to my wife who has endured these 54 years. Loren Eiseley stood at the grave of his wife of many years and said: "You have been with me all the way." I can say that with deep appreciation for my wife Gayle and for dear Leslie and Matthew.

So I turn eighty on October 15th. I have come a long way from that balmy October morning on First Avenue in a little Georgia mill house where I came moaning into the world. My Mother and Daddy never thought they could have kids--and yet I came and was picked up and held and loved and given more than I realized. Out of their poverty they gave me a richness.

The late May Sarton is a poet that has opened all sorts of windows in my world. My wife gave her book of poetry for our 34th wedding anniversary. A long time ago. The book was called Coming Into Eighty. I never thought it would apply to me but I read it again this week and the poet was right on target. She expresses what I really feel and wanted to share it with you.

"Coming into eighty
I slow my ship down
For a safe landing.
It has been battered, 
One sail torn, the rudder
Sometimes wobbly.
We are hardly a glorious sight.
It has been a long voyage
Through time, travail and triumph.
Eighty years
Of learning what to be
And how to become it.

One day the ship will decompose
and then what will become of me?
Only a breath
Gone into nothingness
Or a spirit of air and fire
Set free?
Who knows?

Greet us at landfall
The old ship and me,
But we can't stay and anchored. 
Soon we must set sail
On the last mysterious voyage
Everybody takes
Toward death.
Without my ship there,
Wish me well."

And if you have been part of the journey...I tip my hat to you--so many, many times, so many places--you have made it fun.

--Roger Lovette /


  1. Dear, dear Roger,
    I am so glad to have been a teeny weeny speck on that journey of yours. I am especially grateful that you and Mom and Dad and Morris shared even more of it. Happy Birthday with lots of love and many happy returns!--Shelley

  2. Dear Roger,
    I "ditto" what Shelley said. I am honored to know you and you were the first pastor to help me begin my own spiritual journey. Happy, Happy Birthday with love and a big hug! Emily