Yesterday was our Schnauzer Lola’s seventh birthday and my brother’s forty-ninth. (I suppose that makes them the same age.) Today, my friend Doug is fifty years old. By coincidence, today also marks my four hundred and fiftieth post since beginning this blog on December 27, 2005. Eliot said we measure our life in coffee spoons; I’ve measured mine in recipes and blog posts for the past couple of years. I think of the posts a little like the marks my dad used to make on the door jamb to let us see how we had grown. I didn’t always feel taller, but the marks gave me external evidence that I was growing and changing.
Marking this milestone borders on being overly self-congratulatory, I think, and is also worthy of note, for me at least. Like Doug’s birthday, my blog count marks a place on the journey I have never been before. As much as measurements are about what has been, they are perhaps even more about what is possible. Doug has never been on the planet as long as he has today. I’ve never written as much as I have now. Each new moment is uncharted territory for us all.
The Romans’ numbering system grew out of notches they made as they counted. They weren’t thinking in letters; they were making marks to show their progress. Now we use them for tombstones, the periodic table of elements, the Super Bowl, and Wrestlemania. Go figure.
One of the books I go back to from time to time is Dag Hammarskjöld’s Markings. He was Secretary General of the United Nations, among other things in his life, as well as a man of deep faith and integrity. Here are a few of the marks he left for us:
He who has surrendered himself to it knows that the Way ends on the Cross — even when it is leading him through the jubilation of Gennesaret or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.
Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible — not to have run away.
Never, “for the sake of peace and quiet,” deny your own experience or convictions.
Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.
Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity — intellectual, emotional, and moral. Respect for the word — to employ it with scrupulous care and in incorruptible heartfelt love of truth — is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race.
We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.
For all that has been — Thanks. For all that shall be — Yes.