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Sharon’s Sabbatical Reflections September 13, 2014

Well, many weeks have passed outside the normal routine of work.  Today I was reminded of the process my Dad went through as his retirement approached.  The company he worked for had a very structured protocol for all employees regardless of whether they worked in the plant or in the office.  Because the company offered profit sharing rather than a pension, one of the features was a series of visits with a financial planner to help set up a long-term financial plan.  Next, all retirees and their spouses were enrolled in a pre-retirement course offered at the area Community College.  As I recall, it was about twelve evening classes covering many of the personal, social and relationship issues that arise with retirement.  Finally, every employee was required—yes, it was mandatory—to take a four-month block of vacation the year before their final retirement date.  The rationale was that you needed a significant amount of time off to appreciate what retirement would feel like—not simply a vacation. It was this last point that came to mind today.  I’ve had over a month now to read, reflect and write about how I will end my career and begin my retirement.  For whatever reason, today seems to mark a shift for me.  Up until this point I think I was operating in my best planner/organizer mode working to fill all the spare moments with meaningful activity.  Retirement specialists warn you against substituting once kind of busy-ness for another.  I am beginning to appreciate that what is needed is not idleness but, rather, openness to emerging possibilities.  It is about making oneself available for what arises unforeseen.  Imagine life beyond the Dayplanner!!!????    Having come to this realization, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that it has taken me this long to gain understanding.  It does, however, mirror the wisdom of my Dad’s employer who recognized the necessity for a major step back from one’s routine in order to clear one’s vision. I was able to attend mass at Sacre Coeur church on Montmartre.  It is a stunning sanctuary full of light.  The priest was resplendent in his robes and the music was supplied by a choir of nuns.  Even though it was in French and from a faith tradition different from my own, it felt good to be in worship.  I do have a confession to make–how fitting!  Twice during the homily I thought the priest had reached his conclusion and I was suitably impressed with his preaching…….then he rolled in for a bit more commentary!!  As I mentioned several weeks ago, it will take some work to listen to sermons as a worshipper instead of as a preacher.  What did delight me, as he preached from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain, was the obvious embrace of the theology of Pope Francis as he called the congregation to care for the poor with real actions of love and service.  It’s a good and sound message—even if we got it in three different ways! We will soon be meeting with Rev. Jesse Sage to get an update on the preschool in South Africa.   Thanks again for this precious time.  Sharon

Categories: General News, Sharon