Buckle Up For Safety
Angela C. Bosfield Palacious

There was a time when major airlines permitted passengers to sit without their seatbelts fastened except for takeoff and landing. Usually, turbulence would precede the notice over the intercom, and there would be a frantic scramble to get buckled up before things became worse. It now seems to be the general practice to require the wearing of the safety feature even on the smoothest of flights.

These are wise words for the Christian to follow when it comes to the “seatbelt of faith.” Some experiences are inevitable and wise preparation often reduces the stress which would normally accompany the event. Retirement is one such event that still strikes terror in the heart of many people, especially those who are unprepared.

One of the matters discussed at Synod last week, was the revision of the Canons (rules and regulations) of the Province. The mandatory retirement age of seventy has been introduced for those who are retained as priest-in-charge after their sixty fifth birthday, but a priest may continue to assist where needed. With the plentiful harvest and shortage of laborers, it is more than likely there will always be the need for a priestly presence somewhere in this diocese. Others of us will not be so fortunate.

In an excellent paper on aging and retirement, written by Jackie Mycklewhyte, she mentions some of the varied responses to retirement which have been documented and the circumstances which precipitated the range of emotions:

“Retiring from work is likely to bring with it the most sudden and fundamental change in lifestyle one will ever experience. But like all important events in life, planning ahead will make the transition much easier. Some people immerse in their work and work environment that they can only see retirement as a welcome release from routine. Many do not appreciate that new routines will have to be learned and new disciplines acquired.

Before retiring, your time is rarely your own, and thus the free time brought by a weekend or a holiday is treasured as it deserves. Retirement is potentially a full-time holiday, which may last for ten, twenty years or even much longer. Some people live as long in retirement as they were previously in employment. Just as vocational training enhances your abilities in employment, proper preparation for retirement will help to maximize the enjoyment which it brings.

Some people are quite outspoken about retirement. The reactions to the arrival of retirement speak volume about the person. For retirement does come whatever we might think about it. Some people have prepared emotionally and practically for retirement years. They are the happy ones, for they are retiring not from but to something. The future stretches before them with purpose, challenge and colour. The very fact of having a preoccupation with something meaningful can take the sting out of forced retirement and change it from a tyrant to a friend who makes possible the fulfillment of a dream.

Some unemployed evidence deep despair, depression, hopelessness or a sense of futility. Perhaps the most common response is withdrawal and doing nothing most of the day. The belief that loss of work may be harmful undoubtedly lies behind the injunction to the retired to “keep busy”. But there is the rub. There are no clean prescriptions for what to keep busy at there is little opportunity to rehearse the retirement role in advance.”

Service stewardship begun long before retirement is imminent, offers the Christian opportunities to explore gifts and talents which may later be used in full-time ministry. It is already clear that “Pastor cannot do it alone and much help will be needed to minister to those who are brought into the Christian community as a result of the emphasis on more intentional evangelism. A disciplined spiritual life will reveal itself to be a veritable “seat belt of faith” when it comes to the possible turbulence of retirement.