retirement = change & transition – reflections on the first days

37½ years of active ministry. From my July 1977 ordination as a deacon in the Episcopal Church, then as a priest in April 1978. Service in five congregations in Missouri, Chicago, Charleston, SC, and Washington, DC. To this last weekend’s wondrously generous, warmly loving Saturday night party and final Sunday liturgies at St. Mark’s, Capitol Hill, a community of spiritual breadth, intellectual and emotional depth, and rambunctious vitality, expressed in free-thinking, open-questioning, liberal-mindedness, that I’ve been privileged to serve as rector for the past 16½ years.

It’s been a grand run. All of it. The good and bad moments, the successes and failures, the times of clarity and crisis. I am grateful for it. All of it. For all of it constitutes shared life freely, fully, faithfully lived.

Yes, it’s been a grand run. Now, it’s done. And, with my wife Pontheolla, in co-owning and operating our B&B in Spartanburg, SC, Clevedale Historic Inn and Gardens, I have a place to go and a wealth of things to do. Yet that will come soon enough. For now, right now, I have a moment or rather I will take a moment, a few moments to think about change and transition.

No one likes change. Or so I’ve oft heard folk say. I’m not sure I believe that. I think that none of us likes certain changes. Discomfiting change for one is another’s long sought transformation, and vice-versa. (Here, I use “one” in a universal way; believing that the principle of what works for one may not work for another is equally applicable whether the subject is one person, one family, tribe, or clan, one community or culture, one city, state, region, nation, continent, or world.)

Applying this to myself in my here-and-now-state-of-retirement, I anticipate that, at one moment, I will be comfortable with change and, in the next, not. I also imagine that it is possible that at another moment I will experience both ease and unrest!

I am calmed by a distinction made by William Bridges, author of Managing  Transitions (which, though written with organizations in mind, given my universal use of “one”, I consider true for me as an individual): Change and transition are necessarily related, but essentially not the same.

Change (I think of aging) is beyond my intent and control, my want and need. And whether I adjudge change good or bad, it happens. Transition is an internal process regarding how I think and feel about the change I experience. Change also can occur speedily; transition usually more slowly.

More tomorrow…

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