I’ll get back soon to some blog posts about my transition to Switzerland; in fact, my next post will be about the Swiss habit of “three kisses.”
Sound interesting? It is. Stay tuned.
Today’s post is a response to a post I wrote recently about transitions – from one thing to something else. My friend Duane Kelderman raised a couple of important issues about it, and I asked him if he would be willing to guest blog for me. I’ve known Duane since 1977. He and I have crossed paths several times over the years, and for the last 10 years or so we’ve both served on the grants advisory board of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (it’s a mouthful every time I say that). Before his most recent transition, Duane was Vice President for Administration at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s a good friend and wise pastor.
Doug’s blog about transitions reminded me of some recent discussions my wife Jeannette and I
had with some close friends. Jeannette and I just returned from a week-long vacation to Mexico
with four other couple friends. We’re all in our sixties and in some stage of transition from full-
time work to retirement.
One of the things that’s clear from our ten stories is that each person’s transition from full-time
work to retirement is unique, and often takes place over a number of years. Bill and Julie began
their transition to retirement 5 years ago when Julie retired from teaching. Three years ago Bill
retired as a full time school administrator but stayed on two more years in a half time position at
another school. Last year Bill fully retired.
The other thing that struck me as we talked about this transition is how the question of vocation,
of calling, is as important for these ten Calvinists in their sixties as it was in their 20s. Our most
energized conversations were around what we sense God is calling us to do in this next stage of
A dentist has heard God call him to join an effort to build a dental clinic in Haiti where
he and his wife go annually to give dental services to Haitians. A retired pastor is very busy
helping churches discern their identity and direction. My wife Jeannette continues to work one
day a week as a hospice nurse, but knows her primary calling right now is to help our son and
daughter in law with their new twins—and their two and four year old siblings. I am enjoying
interim ministry and consulting, and have just become a board member of a national organization
that offers help to struggling seminaries. All of us want to know our life matters and that we are
obeying God even in retirement.
I don’t know what this means generationally. It seems as though winters in Florida or Arizona will not
be a central feature of the “ideal retirement” for baby boomers in the way it was for many of their
parents. I’m not sure. It’s too early to tell whether the ten of us who were in Mexico are part of
a broader generational trend. At the very least it seems safe to conclude that the transition from
full-time work to full-time retirement is thick, delightfully nuanced, and fraught with meaning for
many people currently contemplating retirement.