Living in the gap

We’re in the middle of a pandemic. That’s not really news, but the various things happening around this event are getting more troubling for me every day. Our city government has decreed that face coverings will be mandatory as of August 1, at the same time that our Provincial government has decided to move ahead with schools re-opening in September without any real extra protection (or funds) for students and staff.

If people are confused and trouble, there’s good reason. Our leaders at various levels are starting to work against each other, in contrast to the early days (March and April) when everyone seemed to be on the same page. People are getting tired of the restrictions, even as most are starting accept them as the “new normal.”

Not an easy time to live in, to be sure. And it’s made even harder by the number of people at every level of society who are pushing back against the science. I’ve heard of people denying that there is a pandemic at all. At the other extreme, I’ve heard people who say that the doctors and scientists are covering up the real seriousness of the situation.

We are living in a peculiar kind of gap. The virus has changed many of our normal behaviors, perhaps permanently. Whatever happens, I think it’s fair to say that nothing will ever be quite the same after this is over. Will it ever be over? Will we be living with this virus for the foreseeable future? If an effective vaccine and/or a cure can’t be found, can we ever feel safe again?

So here we are, more than four months into the declaration of the pandemic, and we have few workable answers. It seems to me that we need to try to trust the people who are working in this area day by day, allowing them the space to exercise their expertise.

One of the things that really troubles me is the self-centred attitude many people are taking to simple precautions like wearing face-covering. It may be your right to risk getting a disease, but is it your right to put other people at risk?

Every right we might claim brings with it an attendant responsibility. Free speech? By all means, speak your mind, but please be aware that your speech may needlessly hurt someone else. Free assembly? Get together as you wish, but not at the expense of other people’s freedom and safety. Freedom of religion? I’m all for that — I don’t want anyone dictating my faith life. But that means that you have to respect other people’s religious freedom.

I will wear a mask in public places in my city. I will worship according to the church and health authority’s dictates. I will keep my distance from other people as much as possible. I will sanitize as possible.

And I will continue to hope and pray that the end of this “gap” in our corporate life will not be disaster, but rather a new and kinder way of living.

4 years — and not counting

number4_PNG15034Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of my retirement. I left my last parish on June 23, 2013, taking 5 weeks of accumulated vacation time before the mandated date: the first day of the month following one’s 65th birthday. So, August 1 is the date I left the employ of the church and began collecting the various pensions that continue to support me and my wife. Four years have gone by remarkably quickly, although as I look back, the first one seemed very long. I wasn’t really ready to quit, plus I had some “unfinished business.” Some time into the second year, I realized I had finally let go of the stuff that had been occupying my mind, and I was able to relax and enjoy my freedom.

The freedom of the retired person is the freedom to choose how you’re going to spend each day. I can listen to the traffic reports most mornings, and feel grateful that I don’t have to be anywhere in particular. The clock isn’t running, and the telephone is no longer my master. Not that I’m sitting around doing nothing — I have several activities I have chosen to do — but it’s my choice, not an employer’s dictates.

I am grateful to be in good health. To be sure, I’m a step or two slower than I used to be, and I do have the occasional “senior moment,” but my doctor said that everything looked good after my last physical.

Four years into retirement, and I’m enjoying myself. Again, it’s not that there weren’t times of great enjoyment in my time in parish ministry, but there were also some very “interesting times,” which I would not choose for myself (or anyone else for that matter). I don’t need to dwell on those experiences again.

For the moment, I’m as busy as I want to be. There’s plenty of time to do crossword puzzles, read novels, and play hearts online. I’ve been thinking about picking up my guitar again after a long hiatus. There are projects still waiting for me to get to them — digitizing many of my 300+ LP’s, scanning and saving many of my film-based photos. There’s over 10,000 of those, so it’s a big job just deciding what to preserve. I think about it from time to time, but it should be done: they hold a lot of stories. When my mother died, many of her stories died with her. Her photo albums had very few captions.

I have some commitments outside the house: the condo board, two choirs, Education for Ministry, occasional Sunday supply at other churches, Thursday morning study group at Holy Trinity. Plenty! And all of my own choosing.

Life is good. Thanks be to God.

round tuit

 

 

Set free, in a way

When I retired and moved to Edmonton, I brought with me a file of documents relating to a pending court case. It was very likely that I would be called to testify at any future trial. The Crown Prosecutor had advised me to retain the file, and to make sure that they knew where to find me. I have been watching the agonizingly-slow progress of the case ever since, anticipating that some time this year I would have to return in response to a subpoena. It’s been rather a lead weight on my spirit ever since.

Things changed this week. The Crown withdrew the charges, to give them time to do some ground-work that really should have happened last year. It is very likely that the charges will be reinstated at some time, but the details of that eventuality depend on many things. The effect for me is to put everything back by a year or so (frustrating — I’d really like this to be over!), but probably changing the nature of my relationship to the case. If the ground-work pans out as expected, the kind of evidence I might be asked to give will be quite different, and the testimony less onerous.

All this means that I can keep the file in my bottom drawer, and only take it out to read it when and if I am required to. In the meantime — let’s get on with life, for the near future without this burden!