I’m noticing right now that a lot of my ministerial colleagues are retiring. Several of them have left serving churches after forty years of service. Others are leaving administrative and director positions at large organizations. I ‘m still working and enjoying it, but I must confess it makes you wonder, am I missing anything here?
The classic picture of retirement that gets pitched to people by insurance companies, housing developers etc. etc. is the tanned person teeing off on the golf course or the sunbather who is sitting in an Adirondack chair at the ocean’s edge.
While these pictures paint an idyllic scene, I wonder is this something that totally speaks to living meaningfully after one has left a productive professional career? I know quite a few people who have spent long hours on a golf course. I’m not sure that I’m one of them.
Psychologist Carl Jung talked about how, in later years, people can develop into becoming sages.
“The Sage archetype, called ‘senex’ (old man in Latin) by Jung, is one of wisdom, knowledge and power. It represents the innate spiritual aspect of our personality in the unconscious and according to Carl Jung, appears in our lives through different symbols. CT 16, 2015”
You may find yourself now mentoring a lot of younger people, especially workers in your organization. I find myself doing that, especially writing a lot of recommendation letters for former students regarding perspective positions. Recently, at a gathering, I looked around the room and I counted at least twelve people that I had trained who are now a part of our organization. I must admit that it gives one a feeling of satisfaction.
Contemplating your future, as one grows older, now has many more possibilities. You have people who are taking up new careers, learning how to dance the Tango or becoming gourmet chefs.
The trick becomes how do you pursue a new endeavor while focusing on meaning and purpose.
Psychologist Erik Erikson talked about ego integrity, how do you look back on your life and see it as being a journey that has been worthwhile?
How do you live in the future with integrity and purpose?
What ever it is that gives you joy, whether it be nature, beauty, spirituality, living, serving and connecting within a religious community- any or all of these can be ways in which one can continue to live a generative life.
Maybe its not what am I retiring from, perhaps it is what am I growing into and becoming in my future life.
Here’s to abundant future for all of us.
May it be so.