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What to do...?  What to do?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Here I sit, comfortable in my big recliner, having completed a nice dinner.  Heather is away for a couple of days, on a short recreational junket with her sister, so I am completely on my own, and free to do whatever I like...

So, what shall it be? 
Exercise?  No; because I’ve already had two long walks today.  There’s an email from a distant second cousin (whom I have never met), that I really should answer.  There’s another email that came to me from a clergy friend in New Mexico, celebrating my recent ordination anniversary.  That’s important, too!  I will be preaching at Church of The Way this Sunday, and need to prepare the sermon.  There are five books on the table beside me, that I definitely ought to get to.  I’ve just finished reading some papers by Jewish intellectuals, exploring how the theology of Christians and Jews might respond to the trauma of the Holocaust, and I want to write a reflective response for the person who sent them to me.  A retired Mountie has sent me a screed about Islam that he wants me to analyse... should I perhaps do that?  Speaking of Mounties, a while ago another retired RCMP sent me an email about some research that I had done into a memorial fund run by the RCMP Veterans’ Association of Canada, and I need to reply to that!

Or... I could work on this blog...

...which is what I’ve ended up doing, for better or worse.

All of which is what the beginning of my fourth retirement looks like.

Fourth retirement?  Yes, it’s my fourth.

I retired from St. George’s in 2005 (retirement #1), whereupon I went to work for Heather in her law office, as receptionist, administrative assistant, and IT guy.  I only count retiring from working for her as one retirement (#2) but in fact I retired from that job twice – once, when I left in 2008 to go and work full time at St. Luke’s church, and then, after completing the assignment at St. Luke’s (retirement #3), I worked for her again in 2012 and 2013, up to the day she closed her Law Office for good.  Retirement #4, from the parish of St. Mary in Charleswood, was six weeks ago.

On my last Sunday, January 14, I presided and preached as I had done throughout the year, treating it as a normal Sunday, though certainly everyone was conscious that this was a day of farewell.  Following the service, to my surprise, I found that a wonderful reception had been put together in honour of Heather’s and my time in the parish.

Children made a huge card; there were flowers; there was a monster cake, and delicious food; there were a couple of gifts by individuals; and a card signed, seemingly, by everyone present.  In the card, as we only found out upon opening it at home, was a substantial cash gift – consisting entirely of money gathered that day at the church.

Almost every single person present took a moment to gave us a hug, words of affection, assurance that we will be missed, and many expressed with some certainty that during our time in the parish, God had done good things for this congregation.

St. Mary’s has become very dear to both of us, and while we were happy to return to our pew at St. Margaret’s, we look back on that year at St. Mary’s with deep affection and appreciation.

But I was also tired... bone tired.  Partly it was due to a bad cold I had contracted in mid-December, that just would not go away.  But, heck, I am seventy-six years old – almost seventy-seven – and, believe it or not, clergy work can be quite draining.1.  So, yes, I was very, very tired.

I wasn’t quite done in the parish, however.  On Tuesday the 16th, I spent time with the newly-appointed Rector, going over current issues in the congregation, and then took him to the regional Ministerial meeting and introduced him to the Roman Catholic, United Church, and Mennonite pastors who were there that day.  Then I went home and basically collapsed in a heap.

Over the next few weeks I began to feel more and more rested, such that I accepted an invitation to lead worship and preach in two rural Lutheran parishes where I have served before, and, as mentioned above, to preach next Sunday at the Church of The Way.  I also continue to function as chaplain to the RCMP Veterans Association of Manitoba, and as a board member of the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation.

But I still have that long list of things to do – the stuff with which this blog entry opened...

Writing my blog this evening, however, has been fun.  And it is high time I did something with it.  Apart from the entry for December 11, which I began on that date, but only just now completed and uploaded, I haven’t done anything with the blog since last June!


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1  I wrote an extensive article about the daily life of clergy, which you can access here.  Warning: it’s a pretty long read.
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