After preparing the sermon on covenant recently, I had the opportunity to enliven one of the covenants I practice this ministry by. I had lunch with your Emeritus Minister Frank Hall. We meet every so often to talk about how things are going for him, and for my work, and for the congregation as a whole. When Frank shared with me his new and positive perspective on retirement, I said, “Frank, the congregation needs to hear that from you!” So in place of my usual In the Interim column, a letter to all of you from your Emeritus Minister follows.
It’s time to check in and do a little catching up, or I should say a lot of catching up. I won’t try to cover all the bases, but I want to let you know that things are going fine for me, now. Whew! The first year of retirement was difficult, to say the least. I got a new take on those lines from Whitman: “Now understand me well; it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success comes forth something to make even greater struggle necessary.“
The transition to retirement was a challenge – I felt like I had lost my identity. Then I was invited to preach in several pulpits, which I a-preach-iated. (Sorry—couldn’t resist.) I conducted several weddings, one of which was for my grandson Alex and his bride, Ingrid. Sadly, I officiated at a funeral service for my oldest nephew, Chet, who died suddenly at age 59. It was the third service for a child of my siblings.
The second year of this retirement challenge is much better. I have things on my calendar. My identity is intact. The lifeguards at Compo have a ‘quote of the day,’ which I look forward to reading summer mornings. A recent quote said, “When you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.” I made the adjustments.
Lory continues her work with Vitas Hospice, doing more supervisory work, but she still visits patients and families. Carlyn is in her second year of grad school at Cleveland Institute of Music, becoming a very accomplished cellist. My daughter Sue is living full time in Maine following her divorce and she’s doing well. My son Jonathan and his wife Rosie are in Norwalk and doing fine.
My daily routine begins with morning exercise, including my two-plus mile walk at Compo and later taking our labradoodle puppy Parker for his morning walk and run–especially run! at Winslow dog park. Parker has been a great companion and teacher – you learn a lot from a dog!
Part of my first-year task was to stay out of the way as the congregation transitions from a long-term ministry. I’ve appreciated Roberta’s help in that transition – she’s been helpful to me, personally, and her leadership hashelped the church to do what’s needed to move forward.
In that regard, she invited me to write this letter and she suggested that I join her in the pulpit later in this church year. I look forward to that, and I’m glad to feel back in touch with you. I hope you are adjusting your sails as you move through life’s inevitable changes, challenges and the little surprising rewards.