Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Neil Gaiman, Caroline
I looked out the window as the truck pulled away from the house. The lion’s share of our worldly belongings were in that truck, and while the driver had a bill of lading, he was really leaving without a genuine destination in hand. For the short term, our goods were going into storage. From there, God only knows.
We have our suspicions, my wife and I. We know we will be relocating in about a month (that we are technically homeless). We still have a Post Office Box, but it isn’t really spacious enough for the two of us. By God’s grace, we have friends and they have taken us in for the month until my retirement from active ministry takes effect. For that, I am eternally grateful.
A month! Can you imagine that? There is an ancient document called the Didache (The Teaching) that instructs Christians to receive prophets, apostles, and teachers into their home – if they are “true” prophets. How can one know if they are false? If they outstay their welcome, of course! One day; two at most. “If they stay three days, they are a false prophet!”
The Didache even provides a remedy for guests who overstay their welcome. On the third day, hand the vagabond a loaf of bread, show them the door, and wish them well. It’s such a handy little treatise, that Didache document. I’ll have to show it to my friends (after we leave).
Anyway, retirement is finally upon us, which is a good thing. I’ve worked all my life to get to this point (using the word “work” quite loosely, of course) and am actually looking forward to it. A friend recently mentioned how the other day he sat down and was dog-tired. “Come to think of it,” he said, “I always wondered what it would feel like to get old, and now I know!”
That’s so true. Some months back I hurt my shoulder. I have no idea what I did. I’d love to say it was from carrying the weight of the world while Atlas was off getting a massage, but in reality, I suspect I did nothing more than shrug when someone asked me a question. I went several months suffering with shoulder pain, a joint so sore it was hard putting on a coat or reaching for a conclusion.
I’d never had an injury that wouldn’t heal after a few days, so after a couple months (I never claimed to be a fast learner) I went over to the Clinic (for another malady, by the way) and before I was released back into the wild, my PA asked me if that was all. I hesitated a moment and told him about my shoulder. I was embarrassed to admit I had no idea how I had injured it – possibly flipping a page on my Prayer Book, scribbling a thought down on paper, or splitting an infinitive – but the healer nodded knowingly and told me it was my Rotator Cuff.
“That’s a really wimpy spot,” he said matter-of-factly, “It doesn’t take much to hurt it.” He then ordered up a little physical therapy for me and, voila, it’s much better. I figure I should be able to start cooking meals again within the next year or so, but I don’t want to rush it and risk a fresh injury.
Retirement, as they say, is not for the faint of heart, but I’m going to retire anyway. I have things to do I’ve always wanted to try – like sleeping in past sun-up. But more than that (and more seriously), retirement is not a time to stop working, but to engage life and ministry more fully, to take one’s benefits and serve God more freely. That will be my goal.
I will continue writing columns as long as anyone is willing to publish them and you feel they are worth reading. I will continue to reflect on matters that affect us until the streetlights come on, the fireflies dance, and some higher power should call me home.
Until then, know that I will always be your friend in this, our valley (but keep a loaf of bread handy, just in case).