I’m writing this at the end of the first week of my retirement.
It’s been a really weird week.
The week before had been a flurry of activity and a jumble of emotions. Emails, phone calls, meetings, a retirement party, preparations for the new pastor, all leading up to final Sunday worship services and hugs/tears of goodbye.
Then, on Monday, QUIET.
I’d joked that, leading up to retirement, I was cascading down a waterslide that would splash me into the pool of existential irrelevance. No one told me it was going to be a quiet splash.
As days progressed in this week, though, I noticed something. Actually, a few somethings. The play of squirrels in the back yard. The activities of my wife as she works on antiques. The snoring of our neurotic beagle, Jake.
Then, on trips outside the house, I noticed the faces of people more, their variety and expressions. At the gym. Behind the counter. In Bluebird Park during fireworks.
It’s as if, freed from repetitive obligations, I had time to notice the simple yet profound wonders around me.
Jesus told his disciples that they, the “branches,” must be trimmed in order to grow deeper into the vine. Maybe that trimming is giving up the things that keep us from enjoying the life already offered. How can you see that squirrel jumping from limb to limb…how can you experience trust and forgiveness…unless you’ve chosen the wiser path? Unless you’ve stopped and set aside, at least temporarily, the schedule that links your identity to your activity? Unless you’ve let your senses come alive to each moment’s mystery?
It’s easy to write this, of course. But four decades of ant-like busyness produce habits difficult to break. Maybe, though, that’s my new vocation. Letting the daily wonders of the world grow more important and myself grow less important.
That sounds like a good plan. So, please pardon me…I think I hear Jake snoring in the next room.