Sure as shooting, when I opened the microwave to heat up a couple of bran muffins for breakfast, there was Cheri’s coffee cup. It’s become pretty much a family joke, of how anytime someone wants to use the microwave, they first have to take out Cheri’s half-full, watered down cup of sort-of coffee that she has been working on for most of the morning. The boys of course are merciless in teasing her – I just tell her I am glad she only does that, instead of how my mom and dad used to battle over coffee. Dad would pour a cup, leave it on the counter to go do something, and when he came back into the kitchen, he would often find Mom drinking his cup of coffee, while hers was sitting somewhere else. I can still hear, “Lady – that’s MY coffee!” and the response, “Oh, I’m sorry – I thought it was mine…”
That’s just part of normal living in most any house. I will spend a great deal of time turning off lights that have been left burning for hours, and opening up doors that have been only partially open, waiting for someone to crack their head or toes. I also will frequently pull of the shades about two feet more so I can see outside – you see, Cheri, at five foot, can open the shades only halfway up, and from her perspective can see the entire sky and the tops of the trees. I can only see about ten feet up, unless I crouch down to five foot level.
That’s normal living. It’s been ten months today – 304 days since I stepped into retirement. I remember doing the countdown to get to July 1, and thinking when I had 304 days left, how that felt like a short eternity. Now, it’s just floated through, with a much more casual calendar and actually a more delightful life. I remember, during my working years, when I would take two weeks of vacation in a row in the summer. When I would come back to work, folks would ask, “Did you get bored and wish you were back working here?” My response was, “Absolutely – not. I just caught a glimpse of what retirement is like, and I’m ready!” That was when I had spent only 20 years, and not 43 in my life’s career.
So, nowadays, I spend time writing, and reading, and napping – I also have been taking Italian on line for the last six months. Lots of fun and very frustrating at the same time, when I leave a little word out, or make something with feminine endings instead of masculine. I learned a new sentence yesterday – it was “Mia sorella e in prigione.” A very helpful phrase, I would guess. It translates into, “My sister is in prison.” Always good to have that one in your back pocket, especially when you have four sisters like mine….
So, on this May Day, the sun will be shining and we will hit over 80 degrees for the first time in 2021. That’s good because tomorrow we will have rain and a high of 60. Living the good life.
So – we have pretty much faded away from celebrating “May Day” as such. Of course, in the former Soviet Union, May Day was the time to display the huge rockets and other weapons during their May Day parade. Here in the US, somebody grabbed the day and decided it would be “Law Day,” which after what we have experienced over the last year, might not be such a bad idea.
Originally, though, May Day was a festival that marked the beginning of summer. The time of the year meant a summer-like temperature and weather, and we could expect to be past the snows of earlier Spring. It was a pretty-much pagan owned celebration, of fertility and such, but when that faded, it was really just an excuse to have a nice festival. They would set up a “maypole” in the center of town, and attach long colorful ribbons to the top. All the youth would dress up and “dance around the maypole,” wrapping the ribbons around the thing as they walked and danced in a circle. Why? No good reason – they just did.
It was kind of like the tradition, now almost completely gone, of giving “May Baskets.” Little woven baskets filled with flowers or sweets would be left anonymously at the doorsteps of neighbors – or, more often, at the door of someone that a young lady would hope to attract, and connect with for the warm summer days.
There was a kind of sweetness to those traditions. Rarely was there a dark overtone or anything other than seeing beautiful colors, dressing up in fancy cultural dress, and sneaking up to a door to put a nice little treat on the step for someone you cared about. We need to do more of that in our world today. There is so much that seems to be so combative, or power- challenging, or having someone or a group of people be offended over something that in times past we wouldn’t even think about. We have become easily hurt or offended or distressed over such little things, that our communities have lost their resilience and neighborhoods have become distanced, just to not interact. Couple that with wearing masks and social distancing (a phrase I have grown to detest), we are losing the “stuff” that connects us, that binds us, that we can expect from one another. Plainly – we are losing love. Even in the interaction between persons, it seems to so often have to boil down to sexual acts instead of romance, and acting tough or super manly or roughlike feminist, so that a simply tender and gentle and innocent act of caring for someone, of falling for someone gets pre-empted by things that are far less fragile and precious.
It’s May – Why not begin this month with that new beginning? Of intentionally being sweet, and gentle, and seeing others as the precious and awesome gift of God to your life? We can indeed change the world, instead of having the world change us, and force us to leave behind the greater joy of being a cherished child of God.
Enjoy the day! And be sure to check your microwave…
Saying for the day: from Mother Teresa – it sounds fitting for this first day of May: Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." Good plan.
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.