During the past week I celebrated my seventy-fourth birthday. I am deeply grateful that I have completed another year—in reasonable health and together with my wife Aafje. I do not see this as a matter of fact. Many people (and couples) do not get to live that long together. And it is not just ‘normal’ that I will be given many more good years in good health—even though I hope so. That things may be different I realized once again today, upon receiving an e-mail from a former colleague in the US, who is about the same age as I am. He wrote that he has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. My grandfather—another Reinder Bruinsma—lived to be (only) seventy-five years old. My father died when he had reached just fifty. At the time of his death his marriage with my mother had only lasted some sixteen years. Aafje and I can now look back on almost 52 years of happy marriage. It is good to view one’s life from time to time from such a perspective. Gratefulness is the reaction that fits best with this experience.
I received numerous congratulations on my birthday–from my loved ones and relatives, but also from countless others. Of course, I realize that it has become very easy to say ‘happy birthday’ through Facebook. Every morning Facebook reminds its members who among your ‘friends’ has his/her birthday on that day. But your ‘friends’ do not have to send you a birthday greeting, with or without a picture or a few personal remarks. It truly surprised me that almost 250 of my ‘friends’ took the effort to congratulate me. This also is a reason for gratefulness, for it indicates that I continue to mean something to many people.
The past year of my life has been quite full—with assignments during travel, with almost weekly sermons, and. especially translation jobs and writing projects. Since February of this year a substantial part of my time has been absorbed by the writing and promoting of my book FACING DOUBT: a book for Adventist Believers ‘on the Margins’, together with a Dutch edition. It has caused a lot of discussion. I received some negative but many positive reactions from many countries. I am grateful that I had the energy needed to invest in this project.
As a new year of my life has begun, a number of activities in the Netherlands and elsewhere are already in my agenda. I suppose that within a few months I will begin to feel the urge to write another book. Several people have suggested that I should maybe venture out in writing a book about a christian view of homosexuality. It would seem that such a book is greatly needed in the Adventist Church. In the past few years I have given many presentations on this topic. A few weeks from now I hope to present a few workshops about this important theme at an Adventist youth congress in Germany. Do I have the courage to produce a book on that topic? I have found that sticking out one’s neck in the Adventist environment costs a lot of emotional energy. I will have to think it through quite carefully.
In any case—if my health keeps us, I intend to do a lot of reading in the coming twelve months. The stack of ‘to read’ books is getting higher again. And maybe, if in twelve months time, I may celebrate my seventy-fifth birthday, it would be a good idea to review where my spiritual and theological pilgrimage has taken me through the years. Maybe I will then organize a meeting with people of my generation, in particular my colleagues, where we can tell our story to each other and recount our spiritual journeys. Who knows!
A new year comes–one day at a time. I hope that I may receive a lot of inspiration and joy of life, continued health and the blessings from Above to make every day worthwhile.