Aging can teach us so much about living if we learn to pay attention and heed its lessons. One lesson in particular resonates now with Betsy and me as our co-pastors for the past 19 years take their rest in retirement. It is this: Major changes in our lives invariably lead us to something good. Finally we are learning to trust that.
Big changes in our own lives, scary at first, certainly have led to something better. Sixty years ago I left my birth home in Baltimore and moved 1,000 miles away to Miami. There I took a chance on a new college where quickly I was made editor of its campus newspaper, which showed me what my life’s work would be. By the end of that first year, I met the brilliant and beautiful woman who agreed to be my bride. We’re still blissfully together.
Twenty years later, she and I uprooted our young family of five and moved to Chapel Hill. Betsy left behind a thriving piano-teaching practice, I turned my back on a promising newspaper career, and our three daughters were leaving an excellent progressive school. Were we nuts? By the end of that first year there, the new job turned sour, prompting us to wonder. But another big shift altered our lives forever as I was accepted onto the faculty of a major university’s fine journalism school.
In 1988 we joined the congregation of a small progressive church of about 100 or so souls. Under the extraordinary leadership of its co-senior pastors, the church now has more than 900 members active in the community, helping others and changing lives for the better in countless ways. We have found such nourishment there. But by the end of next month these beloved pastors will leave, taking their well-deserved retirement after 38 years of ministry together.
So, yet another major change in our lives. What lies ahead for us and our church? What awaits our retiring pastors?
Good things await them and us. We trust that.