On December 31, 2013, I will say “good-bye” to a life and work I have simply loved. That day will be my last day to serve as Senior Pastor at Krum First UMC, and my last day as an Elder in active service in The United Methodist Church. The next day, I officially take on the status of “Retired.”
I can carefully describe the methodical reasoning and name the logical steps I took to reach the decision to retire. I can even sum them up in one sentence: it is the best decision for me personally and for the church I serve and love. Yes, I can recount this process, name those who helped me find what I believe to have been the wisest option of the choices before me, speak of a strong leading of the Spirit of God and yet . . .
My entire life is about to be turned upside down. In the next few months, I lose livelihood, residence, work, status, and structure. And a lot more.
I’ll be moving from a spacious parsonage to . . . well, I just don’t know, except that I will seek to live with pretty extreme simplicity, ridding myself of at least 80%, or more, of my possessions.
I’ll be moving from an enjoyable but increasingly tiring work rhythm to . . . well I just don’t know except I must pursue with greater diligence the call to write.
I’ll be moving from a (somewhat) regular paycheck to . . . well I just don’t know except that it involves the insecurity of free-lance writing, undergirded by a minimal pension and Social Security, as I’ve never had a high pay job. Thanks to the generosity of my brother and sister upon my mother’s death, I do have enough money to rent a small place, sufficient for my needs. Even with those limited means, I’m aware I’m better off than many retirees, so seek to count those blessings.
I do know I’ll travel some, thanks to three sons generous with frequent flyer miles and plane tickets and with both family and friends generous with offers of places to stay.
I do know that the tears will flow freely as I consider how much I will miss the privilege of being pastor and the formation of powerful friendships with so many in this congregation I have served now for over seven years.
I do know that I could no longer be an itinerant clergy person. I am too attached here, too intertwined in their lives. I have in so many ways fallen in love with each of them and do not have the energy to do the same with a different congregation.
So, I’ve decided to blog about this process. About closed doors and broken hearts and the death of dreams and opening doors and re-awakening joy and an entirely different horizon. About my fears and my hopes. About housing hunts and the search for a different car to drive. About leaving my garden and cleaning out closets and drawers and books and offices. About those who are accompanying me as I do this. About those who are breathing a sigh of relief that I am last leaving.
Just about every external of my life is now in a process of flux. I breathe deeply as I consider this. I ready myself for the journey and invite you to come along for the ride.