Life begins at forty (a poem for Jacob)

I write this post to wish the happiest of happy birthdays to my brother in all but genetics Jacob Edward Kulp who today reaches two score years. 

The day that I turned around in 10th grade biology and asked you about the strange card game you were shuffling has altered the entire course of my life. Without you, I would never have joined a fellowship of friends who sustained my life, I would have never learned of Orthodoxy, and I would never have saved myself the abyss that I spent far too long looking hopelessly into. It started me down the path that led to my faith, my family, most of my friendships, and nearly every good thing I have done so far in this life I can trace back to that auspicious day. 

Since you are hours away and I can’t properly toast you in person, I thought I could at least throw down a meagre few lines to try and capture how much your friendship and your encouragement has meant for well over two decades. You are my best friend, the best man at my wedding, the godfather of my daughter, and an inspiration on how the world can be remade through compassion and hope. I love you, my brother. 

Jacob earning his B.S in Microbiology last year

Life begins at forty

It is a well-kept secret, for there are few of us who,
having trod the winding way,
finally come into ourselves toward life’s midsummer,
finding comfort in our foibles and grace in our midst.

It is like kintsugi–broken vessels reknit with gold,
once broken now made whole and remains the stronger for having been once weak

Our scars declare that we have loved and fought and bear their badges of honor 
that are also our shame–a prudence bought by tears, conquered fear, and the ache of a back that’s not quite as sound as it once was,
when we foolhardily and unwisely jumped headfirst into the world’s grist mill.

But now, we have cracked the code!
For, in shaking off the foe’s hammer,
we have learned transmutation, the magic of suffering that can turn straw to gold if we can avoid being consumed by its jealous fire. 

The road awaits and we rise to meet it,
not cocky, but even-keeled, sure that we can bear it even if we can’t overcome it
For that is what we do.

We endure.

2 thoughts on “Life begins at forty (a poem for Jacob)

  1. Thank you so very, very much. It is wonderful; the best gift I’ve gotten. Sometimes, I find it strange that two people should have such admiration for one another, yet struggle so with their own feelings of worthiness, but then I realize that all the best relationships are thus. I love you too, my brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s strange and not-strange. When you suffer from depression, it’s much easier to see the light in others than in yourself, and when someone is as close to a very similar person, such as you are to me, what I ignore in myself I highlight in you. One of the many paradoxes of this life.


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