Being retired begs the question: what did you retire from?
I could just post my Curriculum Vitae, which lists every major piece of work I’ve done since childhood. I compiled it in this format for a specific purpose, now long past. But there it sits on my hard drive, a reminder to me of where I have come from and what I have done. I never expect to need to print it again.
CV’s are nuts and bolt documents. They tell a story in institutional/organizational terms, but they don’t really tell you who the person is, what he or she is really all about. Just stating a title and length of tenure doesn’t really tell anything about the work and the worker.
I was a parish priest for twenty-six years, a life which was at times both
heartbreaking and joyous,
frustrating and fulfilling,
dully routine and surprise-filled,
mundane and deeply spiritual.
My last 10 1/2 years were spent in Brandon MB, where I served as Rector of St. Matthew’s Cathedral and Dean of the Diocese of Brandon. It was a very challenging position for all sorts of reasons. My previous 15 years in two parishes and a variety of diocesan roles in the Diocese of Edmonton were in some ways excellent preparation, and in other ways no preparation at all. It took several years to get the previous situation out of my head, and truly to be in a position where I could accomplish something.
That should tell me something now: it’s very hard, if not impossible, to just “drop everything” and be and do something completely different. (Aside — makes me think of Monty Python…) The presbyterate (to use a better and more ancient term for the priesthood), if taken with appropriate seriousness, is an all-or-nothing proposition for an individual. For all those years, my life was consumed with following the call that first came to me in my teen years, and was later renewed in my thirties. The expression of the call and how I followed it changed, sometimes almost daily, but the central fact of my life was my ordination and the institutional, liturgical, administrative, educational and pastoral roles and tasks that came to me.
Life is different now. I have time to read, to sit and listen to music, do crossword puzzles, go shopping when the stores aren’t busy. And the phone isn’t ringing. We are in a new home in a different city (back in Edmonton), and are just starting to reconnect with people, and to make new friends.
The past is past. Let it be.