Monday, February 07, 2011

Changing Seasons...

So, I'm retired. What the heck does that mean? For one thing, it means not having a schedule requiring me to be anywhere official. For another, it means an awareness of how very tired I have been for a very long time. And for another, it means a strange sort of free-floating anxiety, a sense of uncertainty, a lack of rootedness. Not having the schedule is lovely - at least for a while - and feels like a gift. Strangely enough, acknowledging my deep fatigue is also a gift, of sorts. Stopping for a while somehow gives my body permission to say, "Whoa, it's about time, sister." And that's a good thing in the long run, even if it feels a bit disconcerting in the moment. But that last piece - that semi-anxious uncertainty....not so much a gift. At least I haven't found the gift angle to it yet.

It was to be expected, I think. We moved to a community new to us so that I could take the job I've just left. It wasn't THAT far from our home of almost 30 years, but just far enough so that it wasn't easy for long-time friends to see me or me them. Family made the effort, for which I am deeply and continually grateful. But...this was a place where we came to work. And now I'm not - working, that is. Funny thing sometimes feels more like I'm not, period.

It took me a long time, a time of praying and talking and several complicated and interesting dreams, to understand that my biggest fears - fears about my loss of identity in this place if I were no longer a pastor - were pretty groundless. I AM a pastor, whether I'm paid to be one or not. But I am now a retired pastor, without a congregation to serve, without a title, without a space and a role that is mine to fill. I am almost embarrassed to put that into writing. What's in a title, for heaven's sake? What is a 'role?' Was I created and called to a title? I don't think there's the pride thing to let go of, first of all.

And then there's the 'what's next?' part to grapple with. And I'm still there. Still grappling, that is. Wanting to do more writing, but terrified of it at the same time. Wanting to learn more about spiritual direction, but still so tired as to feel overwhelmed by it all at times. Wanting to go deeper spiritually - but frankly, a little scared about that, too.

It's a time of changing seasons in life - and this season is the last one, pretty much. That is a sobering truth, causing me no small amount of angst about how and when the end of my life will arrive. So, as I try to navigate my way through this brand new territory, I am slowly learning more about trust, about breathing in God's grace from moment to moment, about relishing the joyful beauty of the ordinary, about beginning and ending each day with gratitude, about leaning into the mystery that is the source of all life and hope and peace. It's early yet - not quite six weeks into this strange new place - so I'm on the lookout for clues, small pieces to the puzzle, evidences of good things still to come. And last night's sunset helped a whole lot in that department!