Greetings to those reading this blog after my years of silence. You may have seen most of this announcement if you follow me on Tweet or Facebook but I’ve edited it for here. It is sort of a follow up to the Camino ones – it’s where my pilgrimage has taken me to, so far. I announced that I retired on December 1/17 and leaving permanent employment at Grace Bible Church on January 31/18.
Other than not working at GBC and changing my Facebook status – not a whole lot will actually change in my life … still married to my best friend, living in the same place with the same phone number and email address. I’ll still be meeting with folk for one-to-one spiritual companioning (spiritual direction – http://spiritualdirection.ca/spiritual-directors/) and continue to be an on-call spiritual care provider at Health Science Centre (one of Winnipeg’s largest hospitals) for the forseeable future.
The main thing I’m looking forward to in my retirement is having more time to contemplate the love and grace of the Creator of the universe through silence, meditation and however Spirit comes. I have come to understand that listening is my vocation so having more time to listen and reflect on what I hear will be me being me more. I’m also looking forward to having more time to continue creating beauty through stained glass. One of my stained glass artist friends encouraged me, “the world needs more beauty; so just make stuff, Stephen.” I will joyfully live into her retirement advice. I’ll also have more time to share what I hear from Spirit here @listenwiththeearofyourheart – eventually. There will be an adjustment period but God is gracious and I will be calling on my retired friends for more advice.
I began considering retiring a few months ago after a conversation with Linda. We were talking, and she said “I’m planning on retiring when I’m 62 – you’re 62 now, why don’t you retire. We’re OK for money, so retire.” I don’t think I’d really considered retiring before – I’m only 62. However now I’m convinced that Linda’s invitation – was God’s way to get me thinking, praying, talking to counsellors and friends (including a deeply meaningful clearing committee – thanks Parker Palmer) about retiring. After letting the board at GBC know my intention to resign, they did me the favor of suggesting January 31 as the date to end employment with them. My life story now includes the lessons Spirit taught me through the joy and the challenges I experienced at Grace Bible Church. You may read some of those lessons here as I listen to my heart and there may even be some pics. It was part of my spiritual pilgrimage after all.
The process of retiring has been an interesting process and I won’t get into any more detail other than sharing one experience which delights my heart and soul whenever I recall it. It was a gift I was given when talking to my EAP counsellor about retiring. I can’t remember his question but as I thought about my answer – I looked out his office window at Polo Park Mall, one of the larger shopping malls in Winnipeg. I envisioned it – full of stores, offices and food outlets – being a metaphor of my life, full of options and opportunities. I sensed the Creator of everything excitedly inviting me to explore those opportunities, together. It was an invitation – not a command I needed to respond to out of duty or to accomplish something or buy anything. Rather it was a personal, enthusiastic invitation to discover who Stephen could be as a retired guy. How exciting is that going to be. O YEAH. Part of me wonders if that invitation and opportunities have always been there but I was able to hear it in a new way and it energized my mind, body, soul and spirit. The pilgrimage continues. Thanks be to God.
Happy man…..enjoy listening for God and creating beauty.