It takes a while to stop spinning.
Like a tire with loosened lug nuts, the wheel spinning around its axis, the transition from full-time ministry into semi-retirement spins. The slowing down requires intentional rest.
To be intentionally still – listening for God or just sitting in the sunshine causes a need for reboot.
How can the transition be handled in a way that is healthy – for the body, soul and spirit? How does one move from excessive productivity to recovery?
I have been in this position before, but never at this level of intensity. I find myself sinking into the unknown while grasping for the best Source of wisdom I know. My usual methods of resting – a meager force. Giant question marks shadow my new direction.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62:1).
Restoring sleep helps and then daily naps. Nutrition that builds up the tissues, although my body screams only for chocolate. The temptation to load my freezer with scrumptious blackberry chocolate chip gelato from Target. No, no – I cannot yield.
Restorative care involves clearing the mind as well – to refuse the rewind of what led to the final decision – mistakes admitted, grace given.
To find a way to pour that same grace over and around myself feels almost selfish and I feel alone in the attempt.
I pull out my colors and find comfort in the texture of markings on paper. Turn on the TV to watch basketball and yell at the refs. Read empty-minded fiction books as I pump on the exercise bike. These words require no emotional deposits.
Sit and stare at the blooming redbud tree, dotted with black and white chickadees hopping in the April breeze. Glory in the fractional moment as a red-headed woodpecker perches beside the male cardinal on my deck. Red and black on the background of the greening elm. God’s creation in living color. To spend more time outside is my goal … if Kansas ever warms up this year.
I spend more time on my knees, bringing my fatigue and questions to the Wise One – begging for the balm of divine healing.
The incredible voice of the Shepherd King and his Psalms wash over me with their curative rhythms: fret not, be still and know, God alone is surely my refuge.
Several years ago I dreamed of a heavenly bedroom. I had been carried there by my guardian angel and was surrounded in the brightest whites – a soft coverlet, giant pillows and the clearest air.
Around me, more angels – tucking me in, stroking my brow, murmuring love. Being cared for. Receiving compassion straight from Abba’s heart.
That I so vividly remember the dream underscores how deeply I need my Beloved Divine to show up.
Ultimately, restorative care and the rest required to eliminate stress just takes time – a day, a week, another day. No guidelines here.
A friend told me she slept for months after retirement. A client has pursued rest and direction for three years.
And I – in my self-sufficient planning mode – thought I would be rested after just one week. That would be a “No.”
I listen hard for the gentle voice that assures me I am not alone. I will eventually find soul energy again. The words will pour forth and the direction will be made clear.
Isaiah speaks from his prophetic viewpoint, “God will comfort all my waste places. He will make my wilderness like Eden, my desert like a garden. Joy and gladness will be found in me and thanksgiving – the voice of praise.” (Isaiah 51:3).
So I wait and rest, trusting in the One who reminds me where hope originates. He places his words in my mouth and covers me with his gentle hand.
©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of “Sometimes They Forget” and the Reverend G Trilogy