Well, the boys are still in Las Vegas, and after a nice weekend with my bride, she headed off to work this Monday morning. Today then becomes the first day in perhaps a year and a half in which I will spend the entire day alone. Sure, there have been different times when I have been home alone for an hour or so, but to have an entire day that will be mine and mine alone is pretty amazing. As I kissed Cheri goodbye, she said, “Go and have fun somewhere.” My kneejerk response was, “yep – I’m going to stay home all day.” I know that may sound even kind of dopey to “waste” a day just hanging around the house by myself, but to tell you the truth, I’ve always enjoyed that. Sure, I have some different chores that I have set out for myself – I need to marinade the roast before I put it on the grill this evening, and I need to carry some things downstairs to our storage room, but you can see from that list that it won’t be a huge burdensome day. Granted, the plumber is coming in a little while to fix something under our kitchen sink, but that shouldn’t take long. I’ll water the plants in the backyard, and open some windows to get some fresh air into the house, but nothing is earthshaking or requires a huge amount of planning or thought. I’m just home alone, by myself. When we were little, we always asked, when Mom and Dad needed to go out somewhere, “Can I be the boss of myself, and do whatever I want to?” I’m still asking that question, and perhaps today, the answer will be “yes.”
Yet – it is a bit strange. The three cats have all been fed, and gotten a morning treat, and are now hunkered down in their favorite morning sleeping spots (they will move at least twice more before the end of the day, but most likely they will use as little energy as they can, since they are cats, after all. I might shower later and have a few more cups of coffee, and even turn the radio on, if I’m inclined, but what is strange is that really anything I do, no one really will care about.
Now, I’m a born and raised introvert. Not in a creepy way, where I hide out from people or sit in the dark watching my fingernails grow, but after 40 or more years of doing church work, which meant interacting with people on all sorts of different levels, from meetings to worship to counseling sessions to teaching to visits at the hospital and at homes, it’s frankly kind of a nice feeling to not have to do that, if I don’t want (and to tell the truth, right now in my life… I don’t want). In recent years, there has a been a huge upsurge in anxiety in our country and our culture. That atmosphere has to have a release valve, and so we have also had a huge increase in people’s emotional illness and plain dumb behavior. A lot of that occurs when you deal in a church setting, because for some reason, people with issues seem to think that while they may be restricted in acting poorly in the world at large, when they get to the church, they can just put on their lack-of-self-discipline pants, and feel free to say or do whatever they please, no matter who they offend or hurt. As a pastor, you learn to begin interactions with those folks, and especially as a district superintendent, I found that I was “invited” to come to a church often because a person or persons managed to just set the place on fire, and the congregation wanted me to “fix” it. Now, I learned how to put the fires out, but the only way to truly fix that kind of environment is by folks learning to create and live within boundaries – even if that means going off by yourself for a while, until you can figure things out without hurting someone else.
Like I said, after so many years of feeling like I was part of the expeditionary force, or SWAT team, or in charge of a MASH unit to try to heal things and put stuff back together, to no longer do that has been a nice relief. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, or hated it or anything like that – it just finally became more exhausting than fulfilling, and that’s a good reason to retire after all is said and done.
So today I get to spend time alone. Oh, like I mentioned, there are all sorts of little chore and tasks I could do, and I may – or I may not. Nothing is urgent today. Nothing is required today. Nothing is earth-shaking today, and so perhaps it’s time for another cup of coffee, do an online crossword puzzle, marinade that roast and make plans now for a nice afternoon nap. Tell me what paradise looks like to you…
Word for the day: crepuscular. Pronounced kri-PUSK-you-ler. Kind of a cool word, from Latin crepusculum, which simply means “twilight, or dusk.” The simpler Latin word is creper, which is “obscure or uncertain.” A crepuscular animal is one who comes out at twilight to feed, or dance around, perhaps. Most humans are the opposite of that behavior, and when it gets to be close to the end of daylight, they/we find shelter, and call it a day.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.