As 2015 draws to a close I cannot help but reflect on the past five years of my retirement. At the conclusion of 2010 I stepped away from my career at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois after thirty-two years, two months and three weeks of service. This was a job that by and large I loved for the entirety of my affiliation with the University.
I began as a Building Service Worker I, which is a janitor, and it was a great step up for me financially. My pay doubled from my former position outside the school and there were excellent benefits. I determined, early on, that if I was going to work in the custodial arena…I wanted to be a custodial professional. Through God’s grace and hard work promotions came quickly…and for the last twenty-five years of my career I worked as either the assistant manager of the organization or the manager.
The wonderful people that I was privileged to work with so enhanced my time there…and were much of the reason for what success I attained!
Yet when it came time to retire I had no regrets…as I was keenly aware that life does not go on forever.
Over the past five years Mary Jane, who retired just two months after me, and I have enjoyed some special times and some special people! We have been able to accompany my wonderful brother-in-law Ron, who is more like my brother, and his lovely wife Ira Kaye on several trips…including an annual visit to their condo in Destin, Florida. The camaraderie we have enjoyed has been extraordinary and has added to the richness of retirement.
We have been able to visit Europe three times, two with our sons, and are planning a trip there in 2016 with Aaron and Jonathon.
Our reconnection with our dear friends of over forty years, Jeff and Margo, has been especially sweet and fulfilling. They have lived in Europe for several years and our visits with them have been time travel in action…as it seems that we are all retuned to our young selves at the inception of our friendship. Also, Margo’s dedication to writing inspired me to write more…which is something I have wanted to do for most of my life.
We were thrilled to join or friends Tammy and Sam and their son Zach at their condo on St. John, Virgin Island this past July.
I was honored to serve three years on the governing board of our church, called the Session, and Mary Jane is in the midst of her three year term on the board of Deacons.
In June Jonathon and I joined Kiwanis and are enjoying it very much.
I was asked by the Southern Illinois University Civil Service Council to be their representative on the local chapter of the State University Annuitants Association and have been honored to do so for the past three years.
So, what does the future hold? I hope to write a book in 2016…I welcome your suggestions? Also, I am excited about the potential trip to Europe…as we all love it profoundly!
I continue to hope to add my small voice in some way to understanding and tolerance among those I encounter; for those who are different from me…but more often than not… so beautiful and to be emulated.
John Lennon was born October 9, 1940. He would have been 75 years old this year. He wrote the famous Christmas song, “So this is Christmas”. The song is poignant in its’ simple message pleading for world peace.
” And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight”
The last verse of the song is, “War is over if you want it, War is over Now”
The other night I watched a presidential debate where it appeared that the contenders were trying to “out tough” their colleagues and prove who was the baddest among them and how eager they were to commit thousands of men and women to battle. One presidential hopeful stated that, “He would carpet bomb the enemy and see if the surrounding ground would glow.”
I recently re-read what is considered the author Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece, “Childhoods End” where he tells of Aliens intervening in the affairs of men and, at least in part, bringing peace and a ceasing of all of the tribal and petty squabbles of humanity.
Christians believe that the advent of the Christ child was to bring peace to the suffering family of man.
Is the answer further bloodshed in what many religions believe is their god ordained righteous cause?
Two thousand years ago a homeless middle eastern couple were seeking shelter for the night…as she was “great with child.”
Is it to late to realize that if you believe that a higher power created humanity…was that higher power so small that it deems only a small segment of its’ creation worthy of life? Could there really be no more war?
My mother was fond of the old nursery rhyme and American Christmas carol, “Christmas is Coming.” She would say or sing almost every day of the Christmas season, “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do. If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!
As I listened to her joyful refrain I could not help but realize that Christmas was a very special time of year. I also understood that Christmas comes to all types of people including those who have plenty and those who have little…or nothing at all.
The beloved Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol” illustrates the economic unevenness of England’s society in Victorian times with Bob Cratchit’s family so happy although lacking of material things but abundant with love, faith, and family. While Scrooge has all the money he will ever need but is unhappy and cold and destitute of even a smidgen of happiness and blind to the meaning of Christmas.
This morning our church dedicated its’ annual offering of toys for those children who could be likened to the Cratchit family of old…who without the loving gifts of others would not have even a spare humble Christmas.
A former classmate of mine, along with one of his colleagues, has for the last several years collected coats for children whose parents do not have the money to buy them one.
As I was listening to the radio the other day I heard an interview with a pastor in Indianapolis, Indiana who’s church primary mission was to feed the homeless. They had commissioned a controversial statue of Jesus laying on a bench outside their church with a cover over some of his body…but leaving his feet bare…with the nail holes in them. The pastor said that he can see the work of art from his office window and that many times passers by think it is a actual homeless person until they see the feet…and suddenly realize it is a depiction of Jesus.
“Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” Matthew 25:44 KJV