Thoughts on a change of season

"As the 1970s-era bumper sticker puts it, 'God isn’t finished with me yet'" Image: Rowley/Shutterstock Composite
"As the 1970s-era bumper sticker puts it, 'God isn’t finished with me yet'" Image: Rowley/Shutterstock Composite
Published May 31, 2024

When my family moved to Ontario from the West Coast, the first difference we noticed was the distinctiveness of the seasons, especially the fall. Each season has its own unique gifts in Ontario, and we enjoyed the transitions from one to another.

Our lives have a similar pattern of distinctive seasons shaped by our age, work, family and location. From youth to adulthood; from single to partnered and then to family life; from one vocation to another our lives shift and change. Some of these changes are the result of a decades-long process; others are prompted by a sudden event, as when a death happens unexpectedly. In each transition there is a time of grieving what has been lost and growing into a new way of living that brings new joys and opportunities. A plaque in my hallway reminds me, “Bidden or not—God is present.”

On Sept. 15 I am beginning a transition of vocation after almost 39 years of ordained ministry. I will still be an ordained bishop but without a particular role in a parish or diocese or national office. I will be “retired.” In the past months of reflection on this transition I’ve begun wondering, first, what it will be like to not have the responsibilities of the primacy or a diocese to occupy my heart and mind. I’ve begun to acknowledge the losses of role and identity I’ll experience—losses I both long for and anticipate with sadness.

More recently I’ve begun to reflect on what I might gain—the new opportunities that lie before me to engage my vocation differently and to renew other vocations left behind in the dust of time pressures and travel. Now there is excitement at the possibilities: to be fully present to music, by singing or playing piano and flute; to explore teaching opportunities with a variety of people, thereby exploring our faith together. I look forward to having a schedule that allows for spontaneity, and time—time to accompany others on the journey of faith as a mentor or spiritual companion, and time just to be present to God, as God exists in our midst: in beauty, in creation, in song and in people.

Just as every year of my life I’ve longed for the next season in creation and its gifts, I am longing for the gifts of the season of retirement. There are many aspects of this ministry that I will miss. However, I know, as the 1970s-era bumper sticker puts it, “God isn’t finished with me yet.” And so I will gently grieve what I’m leaving behind—and joyfully enter into the possibilities of the future, trusting God will be present to open doors in ways I have not yet imagined. Thanks be to God.


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