Most of the retired people I know say that they are busier now than when they were working full time in their job. The big fear people have, when they first retire, is am I going to have enough to do to keep busy? I know in my own case, having forestalled retirement three times from my original date of 2006, I finally retired full time in 2011.
Everyone has a different way they approach retirement and keeping busy. I did not want to end up in front of the television binge-watching Bizarre Foods (which I like) as the center of my life.
I had written over forty books by 2017, and published thirty-four by this time (you can see some of my handiwork in the Store section of this blog). I began this blog in 2017 and try to keep it current four or five times a week. This helps me more than anyone else, but who else is there who will take care of my mental capabilities? I have a purpose in life, above and beyond the mega-purpose I espouse in my book, Six Thresholds of Life.
THE PURPOSE OF MY LIFE
I have a purpose in my life, one which no one can take away from me, one that does not change with the wind, or is politically correct, one that I have discovered at the very core or center of my being. This is my center. Retired or not. Working or not. Happy or not. Fulfilled or not. It informs what I do and who I am. It is actually not a thing but a living, dynamic person, a relationship with God that is beyond playing games, such as, my God can beat your god, and Name that god.
If you have not identified your center, the one idea, thought or statement that sums up who you are, who you want to become and will last as long as you do, then I encourage you to do so now. My center is eight words long and you can look it up in Philippians 2:5. My center helps me in both retirement and when I was working in gainful employment.
I am reminded of the statement in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of Heaven and all else will be given to you besides.” I must have read that passage over two hundred time without picking up on the deeper meaning. You can say you have faith in something, but there is a deeper growth than faith (I Corinthians 13:13), one where faith has you. One where you wake up one day and say, Wow! That makes sense! I tried it and it works! One where love is the greatest and deepest part of faith. As I become more and more a broken down, old temple of the Holy Spirit, I am reducing all these practices from many to a few. One of these few is, seek first the kingdom of heaven.
In my retirement, this simple thought informs the way I approach life. Do not worry about what you are to eat or drink, says the Master, I will take care of you. The difference is, I REALLY BELIEVE THAT TO BE TRUE, and act upon it through my Lay Cistercian practices to allow me to seek God is simplicity and truth.
If you have read some of my other blogs, you know that I suffered cardiac arrest (Widowmaker) in 2007 and Leukemia (CLL type) in 2014. I wrote a book about my experiences entitled You Know You Are Going to Die, Now What: A cancer survivor reflects on how contemplation helps confront three questions you must face head-on–A Journal. What gets a person through such life-skewing traumas? The answer for me was, not a what but a who. I simply defaulted to my center, which was, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t cure cancer, but it cures the spirit and refocused me on what is really important–love.
Look to your heart. Where your heart is, there your treasure will be. I am so gifted by God (faith to believe, hope trust that what I believe is, and love and behave in such a way that my faith and hope is real), that I am humbled that God would think so much of sinful, fragile humans, such as me, to entrust his grace and precious body and blood within my body. I am truly a temple of the Holy Spirit, although undeserving and in need of constant renewal and forgiveness for my sins. Each day, at Morning Prayer and Eucharist at Good Shepherd community in Tallahassee, Florida, I ask for the grace to love God with my whole heart and soul and strength and my neighbor as myself. Every evening, when I see how I did, I always come up short. Humans can only try to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. We never completely make it. The difference is why I begin the next day trying to run the race once more, as St. Paul says in Hebrews 12: 1.
The heritage I must pass on, even if those around me do not accept it is, the purpose of life is: love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength, plus, love your neighbor as yourself. As a retiree, a senior, or whatever you are, that is all you have to do.
Of course, doing it means, in my case, with my particular background, given my experiences, I do so as one who aspires to be a Lay Cistercian and follow the Rule of Benedict as practiced by Cistercians, specifically Trappist monks, and nuns.
As a retiree, I have everything I need to fulfill my destiny as a human, as a member of the living Body of Christ, as a Lay Cistercian, as a humbled husband and father.
That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict