Two criminal hands

Dipped in blood and

Guilt, caught in the act

Sentenced to death and

Nailed down, now

Outstretched toward

Two innocent hands

Bleeding purpose and

Mercy, open to receive

Dying for love and

Sharing pain, now

Offering complete

Forgiveness and

Salvation to both

But one is clenched

Into a tight fist, holding

On to pride, and to the

Pain of deserved shame

And punishment for

The sins of fathers

While the other is

Taken by love, hopeful

Humbled by an image

Of blameless self-giving

Asking, reaching for

The touch of heaven

Which criminal are you?

Which hand is yours?


O God, save me

from my empty dreams

that tease my shallow heart

and leave me wanting

for dreams that plunge me

into your sea so deep

and stretch me across

your sky so wide.


“Aging is not just decay, you know. It’s growth.”

That’s what Morrie said. I read it a couple months ago in Mitch Albom’s bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie. And I think I agree with him.

Today, I turn 44 years old, and I must admit, I’m feeling good. I'm feeling positive because I know I'm still learning and growing as a person. In general, I’m happy to be growing old(er).

Besides, forty-four has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It sounds considerably more exciting than 43. And after all, I've already been 43 for a whole year, and that’s as long as anyone should have to be any age, but especially 43. I’ve never been 44 before, and so I’m quite looking forward to it. I don't mean to trivialize aging; I merely want to suggest that it's largely a matter of perspective.

And Morrie is oozing with perspective. He said to Mitch, “if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more.” I can identify with that too. I mean, I’ve already been younger before, but I’ve never been older. I can't go back, so I might as well live in the "now" and prepare for what's ahead.

If you haven't read Tuesdays with Morrie, I'd recommend it. Mitch Albom studied under Professor Morrie Schwartz at Brandeis University. Despite Albom’s best intentions to keep in touch with his favorite teacher, after graduation he quickly lost touch with Schwartz, and only found him again when Morrie was terminally ill. After getting re-acquainted, they decided to meet together weekly (on Tuesdays), and the old man passed onto the young man the lessons he’d learned about life. It's a great story, and it makes a great book.

Morrie is at his best when he's talking about aging, regret and preparing to die. In the face of death, he embraces the “now” and discovers its simple pleasures. He says, “You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue.”

I’m grateful to God for what I have. Generally, I’m content with life, and so aging is OK with me. Sure, I miss certain things about being younger, like some of the physical agility and stamina. But I’m also enjoying certain things about being older, like wisdom and understanding. Of course, I’m very fortunate to be relatively healthy, and it also helps to have a beautiful young(er) wife and three amazing little kids full of spunk. I’m surrounded by beauty, truth and goodness. And I've never been much into regret. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

So, I'm listening for those voices in my life that continue to encourage me to live for today. I hear God saying, “Mark, you’re exactly the age I want you to be.” I hear Morrie saying that there’s no sense in resisting the aging process: “If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow.”

So today, I'm embracing 44. Today, I'm having a happy birthday.