My wife's birthday is today, February 28th....
Were you thinking, "Almost a Leap Year baby!" If so, gotcha!
This is a running joke in our family. Beth was not born during a Leap Year, but SO many people say that about her birthday. And yet when we tell them that she wasn't born during a Leap Year, they look at us uncomprehendingly.
This is not difficult. This is not a Zen koan where, if you asked me "What is Truth" and I could respond, "Go wash your bowls." The only change you have being a leap year baby is if you were born during a leap year! And yet everyone who says "Almost a Leap Year baby!" are sincerely impressed that Beth missed by one day being born on February 29th.
Interestingly, if her birthday had been March 1, I'll bet you that NO ONE would ever say "Almost a Leap Year baby!"
But this year is actually a leap year---and Wednesday is the big day! I think I've only met one person who was born on February 29. He seemed to have fun with it. Upon turning 72, he said that now he was 18 and could vote, but he'd have to wait twelve more years till he could drink...
Part of all this is the way cliches and expressions get lodged into people's thinking. I used to read articles where the author would say something like "It's only X-number of years till 1984," as if, because of Orwell's novel, that year was set in stone as the year totalitarianism would become the norm. "Fifteen minutes of fame" is another cliche routinely used by media writers; you'd swear that someone has a stop watch and is counting how many minutes certain people are occupying within the public's attention.
Church-growth discussions get cliche-ridden sometimes. "Core constituencies," "vital congregations," "the mission field," "the seven-day-a-week church," "changing the way we think about 'church'": phrases and sayings like these can become signs that pastors and lay leaders are impressed with trends. But awareness of trends needs to be combined with serious, unsentimental thinking about the specific congregation's health, strengths, and weaknesses.
Speaking of churches: Was it the play Greater Tuna that featured a funeral sermon laced with cliches? So funny!
We don't have special plans for Beth's birthday but we'll probably go out to eat this coming weekend, and I'll have a treat ready when she gets home from work. I already have her gifts, of course. Just for the heck of it, we might extend her birthday celebration into Wednesday. Her birthday, after all, makes so many folks mindful of February 29th.