Do you remember, the 21st night of September?

“Do you remember the 21st night of september?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away”

Today is my birthday. And in a deeply personal way, it’s always been awesome to have a birthday associated with such a bitchingly cool “Earth, Wind, and Fire” song. Especially one that I remember from my own past, as a great dance track in my high school days. When I DJed dances, back in the day, we’d pretty much play all of EWT’s Greatest Hits, and September was among everyone’s favorites.

But, for me, late September has always been a magical time for many other birthday reasons. For, you see, next week is my Mom’s birthday (September 29th). And so it was always cool to not only have a birthday remembered in an EWT song, but also one close to Mom’s too.

That would be cool enough. But, turns out, last Saturday, September 15th, was my daughter’s birthday…her tenth.

This, by the way, is completely incomprehensible. Not the date, the number. It is not possible she’s ten. And yet, every facet of my life tells me it must be true. And so I am aquiecing to it as a possible truth, even as I am still searching for the evidence that her being ten is an optical illusion. (It has to be…)

In yet another cool connection, my Grandmother’s birthday (on Dad’s side) was also September 15th. But she and Maria missed knowing each other by couple of decades.

My daughter’s birth, 10-years-ago, was the greatest birthday presents for me ever. It solidified these later weeks of September as a sort of spiritually rich time for our family…perhaps a part of the calendar that’s also a part of our DNA?

And then, just a few short years later, September 11th happened. And, as anyone with a September celebration can tell you, it changed things for a while. My daughter’s birthday that year was muted, to say the least, coming just four days after that horrible day and while we were all still reeling in shock. I’m not even sure we did anything for my birthday that year. I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to.

Truthfully? It’s felt a little odd to want to “celebrate” anything in late-to-mid September for several years now.

“Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing.
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away

Ba de ya – say do you remember
Ba de ya – dancing in september
Ba de ya – never was a cloudy day”

While I would never want to downplay the significance of September 11th, I am grateful for the years that have passed since; and for the fact that this year, really for the first time since 2001, it somehow feels again like we are celebrating this month as our birthday month. Maybe it’s the time that’s passed. Or, maybe I’m just not as depressed as I have been the past few years.

Who knows?

But, for me, even with September 11th now permanently mixed-in to my September DNA, this year there is also a certain connection with feeling “normal” again about the month of September. And for me personally? It’s really nice.

For the first time in several years, there is postive, life-affirming power, there is a permission –or maybe even a compulsion– to sing and jam with EW&F again, and to again feel the sheer unadulterated joy of September birthdays.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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