Hal and I are finally and officially retired from our service under North West Yearly Meeting, a service than began in 1971 as we were commissioned as missionaries to Bolivia. Our retirement celebration during the closing banquet of yearly meeting sessions, just a few weeks ago, turned out well. Both of us being introverts who prefer the sidelines to the spotlight, we were anticipating the event somewhat cautiously. I remember even telling myself that it would soon all be over and we would have some lovely memories.
It was better than that. Somehow God enabled us to relax, receive and have fun.
In retrospect, we’re seeing that the event served as a rite of passage, making it real that we are passing from one phase of life to another. We needed that because much of what we were doing under the supporting umbrella of the Board of Global Outreach we will continue to do. It’s just that now we get to do it as volunteers, trusting that Social Security will help us buy celery, light bulbs and books. The Bolivian Friends history project is ongoing. So much of our day to day routine continues as before.
But there is a difference. Some tasks have fallen from our shoulders, and I’m enjoying dreaming into the future. I’m sensing a new spaciousness, and I don’t want to fill it up too quickly. Or at all.
I’m a life-long learner, always looking forward to the next challenge. So one morning last week as I sat in the presence God, I asked what new discipline or field of knowledge I should approach as part of this transition. I felt the inward voice say, “Learn to enjoy me more.”
What a lovely invitation. What an appropriate focus as I begin to walk this different path.
Since then I’ve been reading Psalm 16 over and over. It’s like a syllabus to the course, “Divine Enjoyment 101.” I read that “apart from You I have no good thing,” “You have assigned me my portion and my cup,” “the boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places,” “I have a delightful inheritance,” “my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices,” “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
And when the road ahead grows dark, as it will, “even at night my heart instructs me,” for “You have made known to me the path of life.”
Well, class has begun. And I have my first assignment. I’m to lift my heart, feel God’s smile, and walk into the joy.
Retired, but moving forward.
Some celebration photos:
With other "Friends Serving Abroad" (above)