2023—another year and what we do with it and in it can make all the difference! And this leads me to musing on retirement. Perhaps you are not there yet. For those retired, are you enjoying this time, or are you bored and/or discontent? No matter your situation, we all agree that retirement living is very different.
Al and I knew what we wanted to do in retirement – work but not the kind that holds you to a 40-hour week so to speak. We wanted to be camp hosts because we love doing that. And by God’s incredible grace, we are living our dream and loving it. Living in an RV is the epitome of downsizing and it may not be for everyone but we embrace it. We have shed off the stuff of life and dive into new things all the time. I call it a “home improvement” for our minds and our skill-sets. Al turns 70 this year, I turn 69 and believe me, we aren’t done living and learning. In retirement we are freer than ever before to do this!
I see so many folks that have decided to retire to the couch. “I’ve done all that and now it’s my time.” On the couch? That is a brain-drain indeed. That’s why I’m sharing this story about the great Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. that I read about from the Smithsonian. For me, it was a “wow—I want to be like him” moment.
Holmes is still regarded as one of the greatest justices in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. His nick-name, the ‘Great Dissenter’ was downright true. No one could have topped his often-heated disagreements with the other justices! But, in the end of the fracas, his sharp mind brought to light why he disagreed and it was usually because he was right and concerned about the court being right and fair no matter what.
Did you know that Holmes sat on the Supreme Court until he was 91 years old? A few years after he stepped down (he refused to call it retirement), his good friend, President ‘FDR’ visited him. He buzzed the doorbell, no answer so he walked around to the patio where the door was open. “Holmes, didn’t you hear the doorbell?” FDR shouted out? Just then, Holmes looked up, shook his head and said, “Oh, come on in. I’m so immersed in this book I wasn’t listening.” FDR looked at the book’s cover and said “Plato? Why are you reading Plato? You are 93 years old and you’re already one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived!” Holmes gave him that well-known chuckle and replied, “I’m reading to improve my mind. I’ve got a few pages left in this chapter so could you get the coffee and muffins from the kitchen so I can finish?” FDR was not surprised by his friend’s request; he knew when Holmes’ mind was ticking nothing could get him away from his task.
I love this story because it reminds me that we are never done learning, exploring, and giving our minds new paths and ideas to travel on. It’s like HGTV—our “minds need updates to improve our living.” Retirement is not for sissies, I’ll agree. Lots of changes happen, yet you continue to live, find new things, friends, etc., and hopefully continue learning for your mind which guides your whole self! Believe me, we will never know all that we need to know if we decide to retire on the couch. Think what one would miss?!
The life of the Apostle Paul is one we should imitate. He never stopped; he kept on going despite his health issues. Even the Romans who wanted to get rid of Paul and the Christian faith thought that by throwing him in prison he would finally shut-up…didn’t work. Even in his dungeon he continued to write knowing the world so desperately needed Christ. His wisdom from Romans 12:2 is something we need to take to heart, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And one must keep on learning to renew their minds, right?
Your mind is one of the most powerful tools you have to glorify God and that doesn’t end when we age into retirement! Whether you are very active or not, your mind is always active. Like teenagers, it desires to be fed often! I can’t think of any better food for your mind—as well as your heart, body, and soul—than the Word of God. So, open that Bible and find new adventures that God is just waiting to take you on—no matter what your age is. AMEN!