I don’t know if my retirement is turning out the way I imagined it. I’m not sure I spent much time imagining what retirement would be like. I don’t mean that I somehow thought that I would just be able to keep working until the end of my life, or that I didn’t plan for the future. My working career was a wonderful time for me. I enjoyed the work that I did. I was busy with family life. I didn’t spent much time imagining what the future would be like. Then, somehow, the time came for us to move on from our church in Rapid City and we wanted to live closer to our grandchildren. So we announced our retirement and made plans to move. Then the Covid pandemic hit and we had to re-think all kinds of things about ministry and how we would pursue our job. The date of our retirement came and we said our farewells to the church. We spent some time sorting and preparing to move, made a trip west with some of our belongings and put our house on the market. The market was good and our house sold. We found a place to rent in the town where our son works and loaded up the U-haul. More precisely, friends helped us load up the U-haul. The trip west was uneventful and we unloaded the truck for a quick return to Rapid City for the final load and closing on our house.

In the process, we put some of our belongings into storage at our son’s farm. Now, after living in the rental home for a year and finding a home to purchase where we have lived for a year, we still don’t have all of the things in storage unpacked and dealt with. We have our job cut out for us for the year to come. Along the way, an opportunity to serve in an interim ministry came up and we went back to work half time. It has turned out to be just the right match for us. We loved our work. We are happy working. We know that the interim arrangement will come to an end during the next year, but we aren’t worried. Perhaps something else will come up. We know that we can live without working for a year. We’ve already experienced that. 42 years of the congregations we served paying into the United Church of Christ Tax Sheltered Annuity gives us income that we can rely on. The churches always paid a percentage of our pay, and we have never worked for high wages, so the income is modest, but so are our needs.

I guess if I imagined retirement, I thought that I would have more flexibility to my schedule, more time to pursue personal projects and hobbies, and more opportunities to travel. There definitely is more flexibility to our schedule. Working half time gives us days to be with our grandchildren, time for home projects, and some time to just sit and think. I’m not as sure about personal projects. I have a boat that is half done that I haven’t worked on in the two years since we retired. I have everything I need to finish it, but I haven’t figured out how to carve out the time. I haven’t sorted through all of our photographs. I thought I’d get that project done. I’ve made progress, but I have a long way to go. I’ve accomplished a few projects at the farm and I’ve enjoyed building fence, repairing a wood shed, milling baseboard, making new steps, and other projects, but a farm by its very nature has an unending list of projects to pursue. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten farther on my boat projects is that I have undone projects to get the farm shop set up. Part of the reason is that I haven’t set deadlines for myself.

And then there is travel. Covid has affected nearly everyone’s travel plans and we are no exception. We did have a marvelous road trip with our camper during the summer of 2021, driving from Washington to South Carolina to visit our daughter and her family, stopping to visit with friends along the way. And we leave today for another trip to South Carolina. This time we’re plunging into the holiday airline travel with high hopes that our plans won’t be as disrupted as is the case for a lot of holiday travelers. Our tickets don’t involve flying on Southwest Airlines, which is good for starters.

When I was growing up, I simply believed that flying would be common everyday experiences for everyone in my adult years. I earned my pilot’s license and we had a partnership in an airplane for a few years, but I couldn’t figure out the balance between the expense of private aviation, my salary as a minister, and my desire to provide for my family. Not keeping an airplane was a good decision for our family and allowed us to do other things that we might not have been able to do had we tried to keep up with the expenses of airplane ownership. But I haven’t traveled by airlines as much as I thought might be the case. When I was working, I served on national boards and committees and traveled frequently. I didn’t think much of a three day meeting in Baltimore or Cleveland, returning to home in South Dakota for Sunday worship. In addition to business travel, we managed to have family vacations, often traveling a couple of thousand miles with our family, camping along the way and seeing all kinds of wonderful sights. I found ways to take time from work to drive my mother back and forth between her summer and winter residences when she lived in Portland, OR in the winter and in Big Timber, MT in the summer.

Retirement has meant traveling less for us. I don’t think I expected it, but I’m not complaining about it, either. Most of the people I know are examining their travel habits and choosing to travel less. It is a way to have less impact on the environment and to be responsible when it comes to illness and time.

So today is exciting for us. We’re packed and ready to go. It will be a long day, but we’re headed three time zones to the east so we’ll get to bed earlier than we would were we staying on the west coast. South Carolina should be a fun place to be for a week. And our grandson is nearly as excited about us coming to visit as we are to see him. Everyone wins. It may not be the way I imagined it, but life is good and I count myself among the most fortunate of people.

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