With July almost over in a matter of hours, I decided to take on the discipline of evaluating how my first month of retirement went. I am happy to say that this evaluation is not subject to the scrutiny of anyone else, and is published for entertainment purposes only…
First – I can state that I actually made it. It’s not that I had any doubts, but it’s still a nice observation. I’ve heard of persons who retire and then drop over within a few days, or a couple of weeks. I expect that often happens because their entire life is tied up in the work that they do. Once the gas pedal is let up, or the brake is applied, the vehicle just dies. I think it’s helpful and critically important to have work and a career indeed be important, but not all-encompassing. That’s just common sense.
I have not pursed a new job. Yet. Our youngest son, Adam, was very directive in his suggestion that I not get another job right away. His advice was that I wait six months. I don’t know if I want to do that, although with the way the job market is with the pandemic, if I don’t want to do phone sales or manage a restaurant, the pickings are a bit slim right now. One could even suggest in retrospect that to give away a 43-year career with a guaranteed employment in order to find another job that could be iffy might not have been the smartest thing in the world to do. However, when we look at timing, I have to say it was the right “time” in my life to close that chapter, and perhaps pause before jumping deep into employment again.
Strangely, we have enough money. In fact, with the adjusted budget and some wonderful tax rules surrounding clergy pension, this past month we put more in savings that almost ever before. Granted, it also helps that we are traveling anywhere, or really buying much of anything except groceries. Every day is a vacation day, but it’s usually a stay at home affair. We completed most of the basic improvements for this year with the house, so not much outlay in that department. We have spent a good deal of money and time putting together jigsaw puzzles. We like to do that, and so much of each week you will find a half-done puzzle on the breakfast nook table, with some pieces on the floor as a result of one of the cats deciding to help. Cat tails are not to be trusted.
I haven’t really slept in much, nor stayed up particularly late. With others in the house still gainfully employed, my schedule has not fully been my own to dally around with. However, I have found the delicious joy between after lunch, up until around 3pm, to kick up the footrest in my easy chair, and with the ceiling fan blowing nice cool air down on me, to close my eyes and nap for about ½ hour or so. I cannot figure out two things: one, why toddlers and little kids don’t’ want to nap – that’s nuts! It is a delightful time of the day and is perhaps the best way to waste time. Two – why have we in America not appropriated the siesta or the quiet afternoon – even for a half hour – to recoup and reset the second half of the day. I believe many of our social ills and issues, and most of our relationships would be much better served by putting our national feet up – just for a little while.
Although I haven’t lost any weight, I also really haven’t gained any this month either. That, I believe is remarkable. Yet, what used to be reward eating or nervous eating as I would have to deal with thorny issues or difficult people has really gone away. There is always something in life to keep a bit of an edge to what we do. I have often said that anxiety in life is a lot like blood pressure: the only people with absolutely no anxiety also have no blood pressure! You will always have some – it makes you and me alive – but the ability to keep it at a safe level is much more easily achieved when the ongoing troublesome issues go away, or get handed off to someone else. I recall the first days, even the first couple of weeks of my fourth life, I would recall the areas on the district that were not “solved,” and perhaps could not be solved. I could feel the anxiety rise – and then I would remember, and say out loud, “I don’t care – it’s not mine anymore.”
I turned down a chance to address our annual conference as a newly retired pastor. Crazy, right? Why give away that honor? Well, when I was a young pastor, the retireds would have time to speak at our Saturday banquet, and there was really no time limit, as they shared stories that had us laughing out loud or crying. As the schedule changed for conference, the speeches moved to an afternoon, and to keep things within the time frame, pastors were given five minutes to sum up their career. Of course, more than a few took the five-minute rule as a general guideline and went their merry way anyway. As things tightened up, the speeches shrunk to two minutes, with a flashing light to warn them that their time was up. I actually had my two-minute speech honed and prepared for 1 minute, 53 seconds. Then CoVid raised its head, and the conference this year will be a “virtual” conference online. I just received the notice that this year, the powers that be are requesting that each of us submit a video that will be played. A 30-second video. After 43 years of ministry – 30 seconds. I wrote and kindly informed the folks I wasn’t going to do that, and that I would just see people around. It is a bit of a disappointment, but between you and me, it’s more of an insult. Being retired means you don’t HAVE to do some things anymore, and I’m not.
So tomorrow I start month number 2. What’s nice is that I can continue to do what I enjoy, and what is important, and what is intentionally loving. I don’t see a downside to that at all!
Word of the day: mumpsimus. This is a crazy, nonsensical word, that makes great sense. In reciting the Latin mass, one of the phrases is, “quod in ore sumpsimus, Domine” which translates loosely as “what we have received in the mouth, Lord” as it refers to receiving the bread of the eucharist. Apparently in the 1500s, the story was told of an ignorant priest who, instead of quoting the recitation, said, “quod in ore mumpsimus, Domine…” It’s one thing to make a mistake, but this priest apparently refused to change the way he recited the mass, even after being corrected! He was heard to say, “I will not change my old mumpsimus for your new sumpsimus..”
The word really means a custom or way of speech, or person who “obstinately” adheres to something, no matter how unreasonable it may be – even who clings to a bad habit after it’s been shown to be bad and the person humiliated. Stubbornly wrong! Sort of like hearing the Credence Clearwater song, Bad Moon Rising, and continuing to sing, instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise,” “There’s a bathroom on the right…” Listen to the song – you will find yourself with a mumpsimus by the time you are done.
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.