Happy birthday to William, who turned fourteen yesterday!
This morning, I read a blessing from the book of Numbers. It’s a blessing that has been offered to people for thousands of years (I learned from Robert Alter’s translation of Numbers that this blessing has been found inscribed on amulets from the 6th century BCE, and I remember weeping along to this blessing when it emerged in song form in the spring of 2020).
Alter translates it as:
May the Lord bless you and guard you
May the Lord light up his face to you and grant grace to you.
May the Lord lift up his face to you and give you peace.
This is my prayer for our son in this year ahead, that he would know God’s blessing and protection and peace, but also God’s great delight in who he is as he is. Alter explained that the phrase “light up his face to you” is that sense of delight. Like when your whole countenance changes because of the person who has walked into the room. I hope and pray that William knows the delight he brings simply by being who he is.
William is the one who knows obscure facts about geopolitics and cloud formations. He’s the one who reaches high objects in the kitchen. He doesn’t like a fight, but speaks up when he firmly disagrees. He still hugs his mother and comes upstairs to say goodnight even when he will stay up far later than I. He’s the one who loves architecture and design and historical fiction and pop music.
Henri Nouwen once wrote that birthdays are an opportunity to say, “Thank you for being!” In Nouwen’s words, birthdays “remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now.”
Thank you for being, William. Happy birthday.
More with Amy Julia:
- Happy 13th Birthday, William!
- William Recommends: Books About Racial Injustice for Middle Schoolers
- Continuing the Conversation: William and Growing Up to Be a White Man
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