Lent and My Big Birthday

I’m having one of those so-called milestone birthdays in a few weeks. On Ash Wednesday. If my birthday wasn’t coinciding with the beginning of Lent, I’d probably ignore it.  I mention this not to receive birthday balloons while being signed by ashes, but to note how at this point in my life, other birth-type days have far more significance.  Heck, I don’t even remember– does anyone? — the day of my arrival for Earth Duty; good thing, since I was a breach birth.  (Too much information? Think of it as an explanation.)

What I can remember are events that delivered the felt experience of being reborn in body, mind, and spirit. These blessed events happened during my early forties and generally after I’d experienced deaths, both real and symbolic.

By then, I was awake enough to know a new me was being birthed. I was aware enough to feel the birthing pains and “ouch” is an understatement. At age 43, I was finally willing to acknowledge my powerlessness over all sorts of stuff. It was time to turn everything over to God. I sought and received baptism within the same year. These are the days of birth for which I light candles and am delighted to receive well wishes.

Having a big birthday on the first day of Lent is a great reminder of all this, along with an invitation to spend forty days discovering more.

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Meredith Gould
Meredith Gould, PhD, is the author of seven books, including The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship, and The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today. She serves on the team at The Virtual Abbey and founded the Twitter chat for church social media (#chsocm).


  1. My birthday is always in Lent. This year its on the World Day of Prayer, Friday 4th March. I belong to a Gospel Singing group so we are involved, as we are on the 1st Friday of March each year. I feel honoured to have my special day in such an important time in the Liturgical Year and especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Annie

  2. ?Well–if I may be so bold–may I recommend that you commemorate the auspiciousness of the occasion Hobbit style? Giving the world around you a present; a little bit of yourself? We have this little fellowship forming that will be committing “random kindness” on our worlds each day of Lent, rather than (or in addition to) the usually abstentions. It may be of some interest.
    40 Days of Kindness kicks of on March 9th. Com join us! http://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_172875516091963&ap=1

    • I’m all for that! You might be interested and charmed to know that many years ago I wrote a book titled, Deliberate Acts of Kindness: Service as a Spiritual Practice (Doubleday), in which I make similar suggestions. PBWY


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