Glancing around my office, I see chaos: coffee cups, paper clips, note pads, empty and crammed-full file folders, empty and half-filled boxes, overflowing trash can, papers stacked high and waiting to be taken to the shredder, books askew, and blank spaces on the walls where pictures used to hang. After close to 25 years as a staff chaplain at the hospital, I am finally retiring. When questioned about retirement, my pat answer used to be: I’ll retire when they roll me to the morgue.
Before 2020 became a cuss word, before the world-wide chaos, before most of us had heard the word COVID-19, Sammie and I began discussing closing this chapter of my life and moving on to other things…before the end of the year.
Cleaning out my office has been a big job. Moving was not in my mind when I announced my retirement. Fortunately, Sammie hasn’t retired, so we don’t have to mess with her office…yet.
Three of our four children have undertaken moves over the past few weeks. One family bought a house in their neighborhood and moved around the corner. Another of our children has been back and forth from Tennessee to Florida. Our daughter in West Virginia moved to Petersburg, Virginia.
To be very clear, our residence is NOT changing. Not now! And my retirement is just a change of venue. I do not plan to “quit the ministry.” There will be more time for writing and teaching, and I plan to volunteer at the hospital after the first of the year…but I’m making a small move by moving my office.
As members of our family have moved, we have had different levels of involvement in the process, from limited participation to getting right in the middle of things. Our daughter that moved from West Virginia to Virginia had the biggest move of all. Four grandchildren helped but also required help, so Nahnee and Papa have spent two weekends, in Petersburg, helping to arrange furniture, hang pictures, and contribute in other ways.
By the way, that kind of thing is Sammie’s passion. Deep down in her inner being, she really craves a show on HGTV. You know, like Chip and Joanna. Only problem is, I’m just not a good “Chip.”
Our second weekend helping the Nash family had a wonderful surprise ending. James David, our 9-year-old Nash grandson, announced that he wanted to celebrate our house decorating adventures by throwing a shindig, complete with a special dinner – sorta like a housewarming from the warmees. How sweet! Little did we know that he really knew what he was doing.
When we got to their house that morning, we found the dining room table set with Stephanie and Gilbert’s wedding china and crystal, complete with flowers and mini-pumpkins for a center piece. Then Nahnee took him to purchase ingredients for “Italian chicken” and tossed salad. James David knew exactly what to buy. He prepared the meal himself, complete with home-brewed sweet tea, and he served his family and guests. What a pleasant culinary experience! We greatly enjoyed the rewards of our labor.
Someday our kids and grandkids will have lots of “stuff” to go through. Sammie and I are praying to go together so neither of us will be saddled with the responsibilities of settling the other’s affairs. That will be when our change of address indicates a new residence in the Father’s House. Scripture tells of a banquet in heaven. I have no idea when that will be or what will be on the menu, but as good as James David’s Italian chicken was, surely that celestial feast will be better.
As stated above, I am not quitting the ministry. In the next chapter I expect to have more time to write, teach, and make myself available for speaking engagements…and Sammie and I will have more time to spend with our stinking cute grandchildren. I’m ready for the last chapter, too, but let’s not rush it.
Steve Playl: email@example.com