June 30, 2021
As of today I live with a woman who no longer has any class or principals. My wife retires today after a wonderful 30 year career as a high school math and music teacher. I’ve been receiving video well-wishes, and Facebook notes from many of her colleagues and former students. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been glowing! I’m very proud of her.
And I must confess that I am a wee bit jealous. Had I remained a teacher instead of transitioning into ministry I also would have been retired by now. After a year and a half of pandemic stress and ministry reinvention retirement sounds pretty inviting. But because of my career change I’ll be working for another 9ish years. And I don’t regret it for a second!
Often the first question my spouse gets these days is “what are you going to do in your retirement?” Her first answer is to sleep! Pandemic has been pretty tough on teachers too. And of course she’ll have lots of time to establish her new pottery studio at our new house and dive headlong into that passion. But what will she ‘do’? Her answer to that question is very wise. She says that she’ll just enjoy the rest for a while and take her time to think about what calls to her.
The fancy faith word for that is discernment. Usually we want our answers instantly. We’re not generally fond of the inbetween times. We like to rush to the decisions instead of sitting thoughtfully with the questions. We prefer having things settled to having them unknown. Discernment is a time to pause, and listen, and ponder. Covid has forced us all to press pause on many things, but it hasn’t exactly been conducive to discernment. To discern you need some spaciousness, and peace of heart, and the ability to non-anxiously sit in the inbetween-ness and sense God’s nudging. Yes, it’s kind of a catch 22.
So today I’m celebrating my wife’s retirement, and I’m a bit jealous. Not just about all the free time she’ll have, but largely because she will have that great gift of spaciousness in which to discern her next season, and the luxury of not having to meet a deadline. The Church needs to do some discerning about our next season too as we ponder how to re-engage with our in-person ministries this fall. I hope our summer sabbath time can give us some spaciousness and peace of heart, so we can listen, and discern. But maybe we all need to start with some rest! (Happy retirement Cynthia!!!)