May 04, 2017
Have I mentioned that the whole retirement from full-time ministry thing is weird?
We have moved on several occasions and I have had to pack up my office. But I packed everything and took everything with me. This time I’m packing up and will not be taking everything with me. I am sorting things out and deciding what I will keep and what I will not keep.
A couple of years ago, a friend recommended Becky Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Since then Becky has gone through all our closets, storage spaces, dressers and everywhere we have stored things to declutter. To paraphrase one of Ms. Kondo’s recommendations, it is important to thank items for their service and what they meant to you before discarding them. “Thank you shoes for never fitting well and hurting my feet whenever I wore you.” Maybe that’s not what she had in mind.
I have always thought that this idea of thanking things for their service was a little too Zen-like for me. However, as I pack up things in my office I find memories flooding my heart and mind. I am thankful.
I have 43 years’ worth of books in my office. I didn’t keep every book I purchased over 43 years. Some I discarded, but I did keep those that had some significance and meaning for me, which makes the discarding job more difficult. I get emotionally attached to books.
There are commentaries I bought early in my ministry career and on the journey.They remind me of studying, wrestling with ideas and preaching messages.
There are theology books from seminary classes, which remind me of my favorite professors, some of the theological wrestling I was forced to do, and people who were classmates.
There are books from my D. Min. classes at Fuller Theological Seminary, which reminds me of the toll that program took on me and my family, but also how it served to enrich my ministry at just the right time.
There are books that have shaped me, challenged me, and changed me.
There are pictures and mementos in my office that have significance and flood my heart with fond memories.
Pictures of: my family, my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding, and golf foursomes I have played in with people who are very special to me.
There is a picture of my daughter and one of her best friends from high school in their softball uniforms. They have their arms around one another grinning from ear to ear. I always referred to Libby’s friend as my “other daughter.”
There is a picture of me presenting a gift to my college football coach when he retired from coaching. He is still a good friend and mentor.
There is picture of me with a young woman from our church in Traverse City who has special needs. She and I connected and she wanted to watch me coach a basketball game. I took her into the locker room to meet my team and that was very special for her and them.
There is a Styrofoam football that was used throughout a RCA denominational retreat as a tool to choose who would speak next on a topic. You would toss the football to the person you wanted to hear from. I’ve used it in retreats myself since then.
There is a photo of me with two girls from ECRC at the local CBS affiliate where one of our members is the evening news anchor. One of the girls aspires to be a newscaster and he arranged for her to visit and tour. Her dad and I accompanied them.
There are files of sermons preached, meetings attended, budgets approved, correspondence written, and other “stuff.”
This project has been “Life-Changing Magic.” As I sort and pack, I am reminded of the journey God has directed in my life. The journey has taken me places I would have never imagined, given me experiences I couldn’t have hoped for, and, most importantly for me, introduced me to people who have shaped, formed and changed my life.