Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's weird being here among active ministers....

and candidates when I have no interest, any longer, in being one myself.  Beyond answering the question "how's retirement?", I have little to say and the topics up for discussion, here at our fall UUMA retreat, mostly don't interest me.

Other of the retired ministers here have similar interests to mine, but few active ministers or candidates are interested or even have reason to be interested in our lives as retirees, so we talk among ourselves but don't much share these interests with others,

I have asked the nominating committee to take me off the Ethics/Collegiality committee, where I have served for most of the time I've been in this chapter.  I want the freedom not to come to retreats, if I choose, so I am going to turn down any new job they want to offer, at least right now.  I have served every year in some capacity and have done my time!  I turned down (for the first time) a request to play the piano for worship, last night.  It's the first time I have refused to do that; my piano skills are rusty and playing for worship means I can't just relax into worship.  I don't feel like doing that ever again.

I've been enjoying our colleague Mark Morrison-Reed's offerings this week, however.  He's retired and has found joy in reframing his ministry into teaching and writing.  I think his approach (and his wonderful story of transformation) is a good one and one I might consider, but I'm not there yet.  I do not want to work with people right now and maybe never again, at least in the ways I have over the past 50 years.

Mark's morphing into community ministry has appeal, but if I did that, I would limit my outreach to the natural world of land and animals, with maybe an occasional wedding, memorial service, and pulpit supply thrown in.  Organizational development duties make me tired these days  No board or committee meetings, no matter how delightful the members, for me.  No settling of disputes or listening to the cantankerous dissenter.  No administrivia.

I retired because I didn't have any energy left or any new ideas for a new year.  I no longer felt like lending my strength to repetitive activities or to local political issues.  I was even getting tired of activities I loved, though I loved the people involved and hated to leave them.

I had come to realize that all my life I have worked with people in one way or another:  as a welfare worker, a missionary, as a teacher and counselor, and as a minister.  My so-called "leisure" activities have been similar:  church, music groups, Mensa, social justice politics, book clubs, support groups, and the like. 

I'm not hoping to give up on people---I am an extrovert, after all---but I would like to be less responsible for them.  I am relieved to be out of WA issue politics, though I care deeply about the results of the upcoming elections.  I am relieved that Dennis, with his high energy, is eagerly taking on what I started at the church and will take them in new directions.

I am pleasantly surprised to find such comfort in learning about the coastal landforms and their characteristics and needs.  It's been so pleasant to meet people who are similarly interested, to focus on water and wildlife and sand and the natural habits of the land, to be side by side with others, learning rather than being expected to lead.

Incidentally, in looking back over my life and thinking about a conversation a week or so ago in the Science Exchange group, I realize that I am really a "middle child" in birth order, even though I'm the oldest surviving child.  I am a follower who has learned to be a leader in some ways.  I'm a supporter with a few good ideas and some willingness to take initiative, a cheerleader for others' efforts.  I go along, but in my own individual ways.  I tend to distinguish myself with wisecracks more than wisdom, though I have a lot of wisdom to share.  I'd just rather be funny than serious.

One of the delights of groups like the Science Exchange and Mensa is that my wisecracks are better accepted there.  They're not as appropriate in many other settings and I have been accused, as a minister (and rightfully so), of being "flip".  I suspect this tendency to be a wiseacre has turned off a few cute guys, as well, to my regret.  But I see the funny side of things so often, see patterns in events that bring forth smartalecky remarks.  I never mean to offend, but "Funny Girl" was a movie and real funny girls don't always get the cutest guys.

I just hope for one who gets my jokes and can make a few himself.


spiritualastronomer said...

I really appreciate your wonderful insights and honesty here, Kit. You've been one of my heroes ever since you handled the nastiness in Portland in such an excellent manner and showed people how a real minister should react. It was an awful situation. Although I have had almost no contact with you since then, I've followed your ministry in the Seattle area through your blog, marveling at your success and love for those congregations, and your insights that showed how much in touch you were. I'm picturing how difficult it must be to meet with a group you've spent so much of your time and energy with over the years and feel like an outsider, while at the same time enjoy and love those people so much. I wish you beautiful blessings in your new life by the sea and the new friendships you are gaining there.

Lilylou said...

Thanks, Chris, your kind words mean a lot to me.

Robin Edgar said...

"I tend to distinguish myself with wisecracks more than wisdom, though I have a lot of wisdom to share. I'd just rather be funny than serious. . . But I see the funny side of things so often, see patterns in events that bring forth smartalecky remarks. "

You and the dreaded Emerson Avenger. ;-)

So what happened to your travel plans? I thought you had wanted to buy a camper van and travel around the U.S.A. a bit.

Lilylou said...

I knew we were alike in some ways, Robin!

As for travel plans, the camper idea was more of a whim because I've done that in the past. I'm not so interested in it now.

Thanks for your comment.

UU Clicker said...

Hi Kit, I think you are ministering via your blog by showing us all how to be retired.

Are you familiar with the UU retired ministers association? http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/209050.shtml

Lilylou said...

Thanks, UU Clicker, for your kind words. Yes, I do know about UURMaPA and am already a member! I think it will be a huge help as I get used to this new gig. I appreciate your thoughts.