This is my humble attempt to tell you about the incredible and joy-filled time of my 50th birthday, but words are inadequate sometimes to express the depth of my feelings, so know that this time was absolutely precious to me and will live deep in my heart for all time.
One word continues to spring up again and again as I reflect on my celebration - gratitude.
My birthday began with a tidal wave of greetings from around the world in my inbox, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and probably some places I forgot about!
At 5:30 a.m. morning prayer, I was greeted with a note on the altar that said the day's prayer intentions were for "Sister Meg and her community." During the Prayers of the Faithful, Madre Martha prayed for me and my community, full of love and well-wishes.
The dining room was decorated for my birthday with fifty birds for fifty years. Birds were everywhere! They were on the wall, in a "tree" that was created from branches and flowers and tucked away in flowers decorating the tables. A special candle was lit for me at my place setting during each meal. The tables were decorated especially beautifully.
As I entered, each sister greeted me with a hug and a "felicidades!" Faces were bright with smiles and quiet blessings were spoken.
At breakfast, songs were sung (including a specific reference to BIRDS in one), and empanadas were served. Homemade empanadas con queso (with cheese)! And I received more prayerful blessings at the meal prayer!
At lunch, there was music and more singing, more prayers, and at the end of the meal, the biggest cake I have ever seen was brought out while the Bolivian version of "Happy Birthday" was sung.
Tucked away at a table were gifts from the community. Some were personal gifts and others from the group as a whole. They waited for me until the end of the day when I opened them in the quiet of my room as I reflected on the day.
The following day, Santa Clara (the nutrition clinic) group got together for lunch of pica machu, a little more cake, great conversation and dancing.
While there, Sister Yanira quietly gave me a few more wrapped gifts. When I opened them later, I was surprised to see amazingly thoughtful gifts including a handmade card with special photos, scripture and a tree filled with birds. A true work of art. She also hand-painted a bed cover -- some of the birds I've seen here in Bolivia -- and a beautiful pillow with birds accented with my favorite color of purple. She is an amazing artist.
So many other expressions of celebration and well-wishes were had on my birthday. I am sure I am forgetting some really important ones! Needless to say, my 50th birthday will remain burning brightly in my heart for all the love and joy. I have had an overwhelming sense of gratitude ever since. Perhaps that is the biggest gift I received for my big 5-0!
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