Indeed the great minister of those in the 20s and 30s has now aged out of the demographic. I remember back when I started I often wondered why people over 40 insisted on grappling on to ministry to young adults instead of paving the way for someone new within that age demographic.
So on my 33rd birthday, I made myself I promise. I would not be working full time at BustedHalo® when I was 40. I started to remember that promise around age 38. And it started to frighten me around age 39. And now it invigorates me at the ripe old age of 40.
I just know someone's going to send me a rocking chair today.
But the truth of the matter is that the students here find it hard to believe that I'm this old. I guess that makes me a "young 40" which I think is funny because the slightly overweight and bald headed part of me that I see in the mirror used to always think that he looked older than he is.
It seems time has slowed down for my friends and colleagues to catch up with my baldy, paunchy self.
40 years is something though. Over these four decades I have done much to be proud of and I think I have been quite happy with what I have done with my life. As the son of a custodial worker who grew up around a sick mother and who still has these two loving people in his life as they move into their 80s, I have indeed much for which to be grateful.
They say you do your best work in your 40s and so I hope that my next 10 years will bear that out and that my best years are not behind me, as great as those years were.
What I have come to learn over these 40 years is a very simple message: Presence is 95% of life. Noticing what is present is what we are all about. The other 5% is reacting to what God presents to us and what the world in its imperfectness throws our way. Within that 5% however, we meet others who provide us with much companionship and support. It is through those special people that we also meet God.
5%... our reactions need not be profound. Sometimes they result in just listening and sharing from our own experience--the rest of that 95% that we need to allow others to know about--where have we met and noticed the presence of God.
Over the past 40 years, so many of you have come to show me where God is present and thus have provided me with the insights that have made up 95% of my life.
And therefore all of you are hidden here in these posts. Whether you've been on a retreat or have sat with me in spiritual direction, or whether we've been colleagues, or depended on one another for support in ministry in some way...you indeed are loved.
If you've been my family, you gave me life. You were the first teachers of my faith, forming me for nearly half of that time.
Let's see, that's 50% of 95% which equals...
I was never great after algebra and that's why I'm in ministry and not accounting.
If you've been my sister, know you are loved and that you have taught me much.
And if you've been my wife...you've known me best of all and have given me your entire self and for that, I am truly grateful and I hope that I am worthy of your love always and never take that gift you are to me for granted.
What do I want for my birthday...
I don't know...for I already have more than enough.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.