Once again we are about to change planets, and this move catches us by surprise. In two weeks we move into Friendsview Retirement Community.
In our plans, carefully laid years before, this move was to take place five to ten years in the future when we would actually be “old.” But circumstances and unique openings have persuaded us that now is the time.
So, once again, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being surrounded by boxes, piles of stuff and books, books, and more books—each one needing a decision. Do we give it away, throw it away, sell it, or keep it? Our soon-to-be-reduced living quarters dictate we’d better not say “keep it” to too many of those precious pieces of our lives.
Marie Kondo, high-priestess of declutter, tells us to toss all our stuff, by categories, in a pile in the middle of the room, then hold up each item and ask, “Does this give me joy?” We then keep only that which delights us.
Unfortunately, I am too easily pleased. And if something doesn’t presently delight me, I remember when it did or consider that it might give me joy in the future. Kondo, executioner as well as priestess, would say, “Off with its head” to any past or future delight. Now is what matters.
Maybe. Maybe not.
We look at each other in amazement these days. Are we really doing this? Are we old enough? Is this move a capitulation? Are we finally admitting that we’re old and giving up?
No, to that last question. This is a new beginning (we tell ourselves). This downsizing will free us. The new life style and community will allow us to move into new (I use that word a lot these days) areas of ministry, relationship, and creativity. (Can you hear us talking to ourselves, trying to convince?) At least we pray towards these ends.
--A full wall of windows from our fifth-floor apartment with a view of the Chehalem Mountains;
--Two large rooms (this is not a studio apartment);
--A kitchen that lets me continue to prepare our own meals;
--Vouchers to the community dining room that let us “eat out” four times a week (and the cuisine at Friendsview is superb);
--Enough privacy to let us lead our own lives and follow our own pursuits…
--…but in the context of a new community with friends to be made and stories to hear (and write);
--the assurance of continuing care, no matter what our future holds.
Our grandchildren have asked if they can still have sleep-overs at our new place. (Of course!)
I envision myself sitting in my new easy chair, facing the mountains in the early morning, writing poems.
I envision myself discovering hidden treasurers in my new neighbors, listening to their stories, learning more about grace—and capturing it in words. There are still books waiting to be written.
I envision bike rides and camping trips, as well as new opportunities for service.
I intentionally envision and imagine. It’s part of my strategy as we prepare for this huge change in our lives. I need to do this preparation because we still, everyday, look at each other in amazement, asking, “Are we really doing this?”
Once again, this basic prayer comes to mind: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.”