Today is my birthday - 53. There is something about having a birthday that adds a layer of extra contemplation to one's life, don't you think? Where am I? How'd I get here? Where am I going? Where do I want to go? What's working? What's not? Am I spending my life doing what I want to be doing, with those I want to be doing it with?
Eckhart Tolle describes contemplation as our thoughts and actions touched with gentle awareness. Richard Rohr describes it as a combination of observation along with love. The Jesuit priest, Fr. Walter Burghardt, describes it as a "long, loving look at the real."
Lent came early this year, adding solemnity to the occasion. Our priest described the ash crosses on our head on Ash Wednesday, as a sign of love. January 1st marks the new year. For many of us, the start of the school year is when we turn the page. Birthdays present another time to start over, to reform, revise and reflect. Anytime we start over and begin again, to do so with a "long, loving look at the real," is the trick. And in the end, the only thing that is real, is love.