self-check – a retirement reflection

The one whom I love and with whom I live and those with whom I worked before retiring at the end of January – aka those who know me best (and at my worst!) – know how I occasionally, spontaneously call out from where’er I am in the house, “Pontheolla”, and would call out from where’er I was in the office, “Angela”, “Ed”, “Jeff”, “Justi”, “Marcella”, or “Susan”. The response? Usually, “Yes?” or “Yes, Paul.” My usual reply. “Oh, I just wanted to call your name.”


I believe in the power of a name. To be given another’s name is to receive the gift of access and to call one’s name gives the gift of the acknowledgement of another’s presence, existence.

Now, as one born on June 8, I suffer from the Gemini-esque twin personality disorder of embodying a variety of polar opposite traits (which, fortunately, largely dwell together peaceably!). Thus, I also know that in calling out one’s name, I hope to hear an acknowledgment of me; that I exist, that I am worthy of a response.

We all, I believe, have life-issues. For as there are no perfect parents and no perfect children, no one arrives at adulthood without psychic hurts and wounds, as well as benefits and blessings. I was raised by loving, yet demanding parents who, striving to mold me into a replica of their projections of “the good child”, never quite acknowledged my individual person; who I was and who I might become. Hence, that recognition of my essential beingness remains, resides as a quintessential element of my daily consciousness.

This said, in retirement, I have begun to notice that the tension of my need for acknowledgement has lessened. Perhaps it is that – now separated from the daily sphere of compensated work with its implicit demand to prove myself worthy of the financial remuneration I received from others – I am free…to be…me, as the hymn says, “just as I am without one plea.”

6 thoughts on “self-check – a retirement reflection

  1. Paul,

    Well retirement seems to fit you Gloriously!! Even in retirement I still think we all need acknowledgement though I understand what you mean when you say it’s less now than it was when you were a full time priest.

    This photo attached to the blog reminded me of the many times you called out my name too!! But most of those times I was in some kind of trouble with you, so I was sometimes scared to answer! Usually had something to do with worship!! This post gave me a smile on this Monday!! Now that you’re retired, I can just be me now too, and feel free to answer you!

    Loved this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Paul, Your comments about the power of a name reminds me of a story I told on myself at Sermon Seminar once. I struggle with the shame of the privileged, and often find it difficult to truly acknowledge a panhandler, even when I give them some money. One time I was approached by a man who smiled and said, “My name is Freddy.” This simple act of introduction penetrated my isolating avoidance and made it much easier for me to relate to him. I still struggle, but I have sometimes introduced myself to a man or woman asking for spare change and asked them how things are going today. When I do, the transaction is entirely different.


    • Thank you, Brock, for sharing your experience – one, I have little doubt, is true for many and certainly true for me. Knowing, employing a name alters the interrelational dynamic, closing/lessening – in some sense, eliminating – the distance of uncertainty and mistrust. Again, dear brother, thanks!


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