In 1957, the year I was born, Ed Sullivan had Elvis on his show for the third time, showed him only from the waist up, and said: “This is a real decent, fine boy. We’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you. You’re thoroughly all right.”
Published in 1957:
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
If Death Ever Slept by Rex Stout.
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
Movies released in 1957:
Loving You with Elvis Presley.
Jailhouse Rock with Elvis Presley.
The Bridge on the River Kwai with Alec Guinness, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
On the actual day of my birth an earthquake shook Mexico City and Acapulco. But I doubt if my mom noticed it way out in West Texas.
Last year I wrote a list of lists and a bit of a meditation on the number 52. 52 is an interesting number with lots of associations. It’s a good number for lists, and I used it this year a few times to confine and order my thoughts in certain areas:
I have several other lists of 52 in the works. I think I’ll stick with 52 (and 12) for lists; it just feels right.
53 is more solitary. It’s prime. In fact, it’s an Eisenstein prime. Whatever that means. And 53 is a self number. 53 is obviously not a number for links and lists and affiliations and organization. 53 is independent and somewhat isolated. It’s unique.
For this year, I’ll enjoy being 53, somewhat solitary, odd, and eccentric. Perhaps I’ll even be reclusive at times, as much as one can be reclusive in a family of ten people. I enjoy alone and different and distinctive and slightly idiosyncratic. 53 is the number of countries in Africa, so I’ll continue to work on my African reading project. But 53 isn’t the number for much else. It stands alone.
But at the same time, I still get to be 52. I still get to make lists and connections and relationships. Life, like numbers, has a rhythm. Pull back and enjoy your individual times of 53-ness, and then be 52 or 12 or whatever age the Lord has given you to be and fill the year with people and books and written words and encouragement and the messiness and joy of relationships.
That’s how I plan to celebrate this next year of becoming what God has for me.
And I might memorize Isaiah 53, a very 53-ish passage of scripture:
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.