Saturday, April 29, 2017

Trending Toward Retirement?

"Six days a week are for are for your daily duties and your regular work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest before the Lord your God."  
- Exodus 20:9-10 LB

Since limiting my work hours at the Family Life Resource Center to 2 1/2 days a week, I have Mondays and Fridays free to be "retired",  a modern version of "sabbath" providing me more time with wife and family, gardening and a host of other interests.

Meanwhile I'm needing some help figuring out the actual distinctions between work and retirement.

Take Monday, for example. I spent 1 1/2 hours recording 90-second "Centerpiece" radio spots at WMRA/WEMC for the upcoming quarter. Of course, writing them and reading through them in preparation for my studio time involved many additional hours.

But do those hours, or those spent on doing blog entries on which many of the radio spots are based, represent work or are they just a hobby? I've always done them as "a service of the Family Life Resource Center" (the tag line), so it could be thought of as a part of my work, but since I do them gratis, how is this different from the good volunteer work many of my retired friends do all the time?

As an aside, part of what makes the above feel like more fun is working with Matt Bingay, the engineer at the station, a patient professional who generously does all the editing needed, even making a couple of extra CD's each time with 35 spots for use on WBTX and WNLR. He does this on station time, and it represents a small part of WEMC's regular noon programing, but I experience it as some volunteer work he does for me and for FLRC.

On the same day, and here's the best part, I got to do something even more pleasurable. Alma Jean and I went to Charlottesville together for one of her rare medical appointment on that side of the mountain, and for a nice lunch together. A great way to spend part of a day off.

Meanwhile, that meant missing my regular Monday noon meeting with fellow members of the Valley Justice Coalition. Those good folks understand, of course and went about their good "work" (promoting changes in our criminal justice system) without me. I'm learning more and more about my not being indispensable, which is a good thing for a retiring person. And I can aways look forward to meeting them again at next week's noon gathering at the Dean House (across Water Street from Community Mennonite). Is involvement with something like the VJC work?

[Speaking of Alma Jean, I also got an email Monday from someone at that meeting who had met her for the first time at last Friday's Gemeinschaft Dinner, as follows:  "I wanted to thank you for introducing me to your wife.  She seems absolutely precious.  I, honestly think that I carried the glow of her kindness and generous spirit for the following 24 hours.  Even though it was quite brief, it was the highlight of the night for me." Now that's just sheer pleasure, a part of her good work of kindly and generously serving and blessing whomever she meets!]

At 4 pm Monday I also got to be with some other concerned citizens at an open meeting of the local Community Criminal Justice Board at the County Administration Building. It was encouraging to see significant changes in the CCJB (now meeting quarterly instead of only rarely), under the capable leadership of Board of Supervisors member William Kyger. On Friday we heard more about some progress on issues some of us really care about, like our now having a full time CSB mental health worker at the local jail, about progress being made toward establishing a Drug and Mental Health Court for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, and about future dreams for reducing the number of people in our jails and prisons. This all represents work, but much of it is over and above what is required by the jobs or titles held by concerned citizens and members of the CCJB. Were they working?

At 7 pm on that same day I got to lead the last of a four-session Marriage Maintenance Class at FLRC. While this could be seen as a part of my work, it also marks what may be my last official class I do at the Center, a sign of my trending toward retirement. I did the class free as a part of our agency's 30-year anniversary, and the ten couples in the group contributed a combined total of $400 to the Center. Being with them felt more like  a blessing than "work".

As to the my day job in the middle of the week, if it wouldn't be for some of the paper work associated with it, the actual time spent in my counseling office from Tuesday noon to Thursday evening wouldn't seem much like work. I find counseling sessions almost invariably energizing and rewarding, and and the staff at FLRC are a pleasure to work with.

This work does offer the extra benefit of helping us keep our bills paid, which in turn gives me greater freedom to do some of the other "work" I enjoy.

For example, yesterday I took time to put the finishing touches to the little monthly newsletter we do for our house church. I was then able to go shopping for spring plants and garden seeds, followed by actually planting some of them in our garden. More joy. And a final enjoyment was mowing our lawn and adding to the grass clippings that go on our mulch and compost piles.

As someone who grew up on a farm, I consider all of that good "work".

Maybe Confucius was right, "Choose a work that you love and you won't have to work another day."
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