Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)
TITLE: A Word That Is Not In The Bible
By Virgil Youngblood
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The suburban was purring along, eating up the return miles on I-40 between Tennessee and Texas. My wife and I prefer the back-roads over the interstates but as usual, commitments were compelling us to hurry home. The visit with our daughter and son-in-law had been short but …
“Honey” I said, “I’ve got a crazy idea. Want to hear it?”
“Why not?” Dot book-marked the page she was reading and turned toward me.
“Next year, God willing, I’ll reach three score and ten. With our commitments, teaching Sunday school, the city board, the volunteer stuff we do, your board meeting, we don’t have time for anything else. Why don’t we take a year sabbatical?”
“Take a what?”
“Get out of everything, take a year off and go and do. And not feel guilty about it. I’ve been retired seven years. While we have our health, if we are ever going to, we better do it now. We’re not getting any younger, you know?”
“Oooh, I like that idea” Dot said. “Let’s do it.”
“Okay, here’s the plan. This is February. The next church-year begins in September. We give notice that beginning in September we will be out for a year. You think of ten things you want to do and I’ll do the same. Let’s see how many we can accomplish. Time and finances may limit us, but dream big. A year later, we saddle-up and go back to work with fully charged batteries.”
As the miles flew by, we excitedly discussed possibilities. One thing we agreed upon: our plans would include a mission trip.
Today, memories of a delightful sabbatical year remain fresh. A few brief highlights are all space permits. A story could be written about each adventure.
As we traveled we worshiped. An Evensong Service in Winchester Cathedral with twelve men singing the 22nd Psalm, the acoustics were phenomenal; in a former bar in Hungry Horse, Montana – the pastor, youth director and their spouses were the only adults, the congregation all children; in a chapel in the interior of Mexico; in Glacier National Park with young college students leading the service; in other locations with good people everywhere.
Maria, a young Tarahumara Indian girl was weaving a grass basket on the rim of Copper Canyon when Dot befriended her. Colorful fabrics, Spanish/English books and school supplies are sent periodically to Maria via our tour guide, along with our prayers.
For two weeks we were pharmacy dispensers in the Dominican Republic, assisting four doctors. Medical examinations and treatment were provided to over 1,500 children and adults. Never have I seen people so poor or so joyful in their Christianity. At an orphanage, a beautiful little boy rescued from the city dump sang himself to sleep on my shoulder, his arms clutched tightly around my neck. I will never be the same.
Our oldest granddaughter married in England. A younger granddaughter accompanied us to the celebration. Afterwards we vacationed through England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. She mimics perfectly the comical song of our delightful Irish tour guide. Grandchildren are blessings, indeed.
From Texas to Canada, we had unhurried adventures. We stayed a month on the Texas coast during the peak flounder season. Dot gigged her first flounder. Oh, the excitement, and the delight of eating great seafood in local restaurants.
We did more, much more, with other short trips and visits to family. But, we didn’t do everything. Dot wanted to fly in a hot-air balloon; I wanted to fly in a glider. There are other destinations we want to experience some day. You have a dream list too, I’m guessing.
When a Sunday school teacher could not be found for me, seven men in the class agreed to teach on a rotating basis. Wow! That has been great for the class and for those men. You learn more preparing to teach than you do being a student. The variety of teaching personalities continues and is a blessing to everyone. Occasionally, I am asked to substitute.
My pastor said the word “retirement” is not in the Bible, and I’ve quit looking. During our sabbatical we brought encouragement to some and others encouraged us. We saw wonders of God’s creation. We experienced worship in new and joyful ways. God prepared us for greater service. We are back in the saddle, our batteries fully charged.
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