Happy birthday, America.
It’s been great to splash in your streams, bob in your lakes, drink in the deep green fragrance of your forested hillsides. You are a land of landscapes, a place where I have found happiness in solitude and quiet companionship with the very greatest and least of creation.
You also made my beautiful best friend of a husband into the man he is. Your complicated politics challenged him to live out what Jesus asked of us all, and your amazing educational system gave him the tools to love learning for a lifetime. Our amazing opportunity to live abroad is rooted in the feeling of home here. Our marriage is rooted in the way that promises and hope are still the foundations of all good communities, including the smallest of them.
I’m proud of you, America, just as I am proud of all the beautiful things I participate in. Children’s lives, communities, extended and extending families. The closer I get to a certain tween in my life, the more I realize how much this kind of encouragement matters to all people. We’re all still in process.
There’s a lot for me to laugh at here, including platter-sized chicken fried steak, angry drivers, and a whole bunch of nonsense about professional sports. There’s a lot that is no laughing matter, like the way that you forgot that we were once all immigrants or the fear you have of our neighbors and friends. Your power is in humility, not in humiliation.
Maybe we all need chances to feel a little more shock and awe at the presence of Love and the ultimate power of healed hearts on the mountaintops and a little less of the habit of exploding over the desert of broken relationships between our selves and our places. Maybe we could try war a little less? Seek peace a little more?
A birthday party isn’t the best time to embarrass you, but it’s a good time to check in and say that I’m still paying you attention. While we’re celebrating your best, it’s another chance for us to work on heading deeper into the right directions, led on by how much good builds on good.
This is a pretty long birthday card, I guess. I love you, America. Always will.