Written for Courtney Hansen, on the occasion of her 18th birthday in January 2011 – and dedicated to all women.


birthdaycandles - Peter Allen on FlickrToday we celebrate you,
that the miracle of your birth
really was a miracle,
and everyone around you –
at this moment –
rejoices in your very existence.

But what about tomorrow?
And the day after?
What about the dark days,
when you wish you were never born,
and you believe everyone else
feels the same?
What about the gray, colorless days,
when you can only keep going through the motions?
Who celebrates you then?

Courtney, beloved of G-d,
woman known by her Abba
even before she was born,
you are celebrated every day
by the Creator of all time and space.
G-d breathes in your spirit
like perfume,
and your name is formed in his mouth
with incredible tenderness.

Daughter of Eve,
even on those days when
being a woman seems pointless,
or the memories of the pain
having a soft heart has brought on you,
remember you are cherished,
you are beautiful,
you are significant,
you are…
you are…
you are…
…and that is enough.

And when you feel not enough,
or too much,
or when you’re lonely,
or when you have been cut
so deeply you fear you’ll never heal –
you are yet enough
and still celebrated by G-d.
You are his delight;
your courage and compassion
make him proud.

So live into every day.
Own your life.
You are the only one
who can offer yourself to G-d.
You are the only one
who can be you.
And when you rest in the sweet knowledge
of being celebrated
by your Maker,
you will discover the secret
of celebrating yourself –
and find just how often
and how much
the rest of us celebrate you.