When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. Matthew 8:14-15
This passage was an affront to me as a young woman of the 1970’s. The poor woman is barely healed and is now on her feet waiting on the men?! My dear friend Pastor Pat kindly offered first century lenses: during a time when women had no value, Jesus restored not only the woman’s health but her place in society. She was happy to return to tasks which gave her purpose.
As burdensome as mother-/wife-hood can be at times, the coordinating of daily schedules, soothing hurts, celebrating joys, managing traditions, and bonding a family provides great satisfaction. During those years, imagining a life with grown children and retirement did not include facing the difficulty of adjusting to changing roles.
My quips that we were the baloney in the sandwich between the bread slices of our parents and children were often tinged with frustration sprouting from diverse responsibilities. But my own transition to bread wasn’t easy. Over the years holiday and vacation planning was assumed by the adult children even if held in our own home. Cooking and shopping and many hosting responsibilities were handed over to ED when we moved in together. There have been times of confusion as one proceeded with plans only to discover that someone else had moved ahead or parallel with us.
I don’t resent the next generation evolving. It is fun to see their ideas sprout from the traditions we had for many years. I often remind myself that they are capable adults, thank God, and happy that they appear to enjoy having us participate in their lives. We are very grateful to be a part of a family which looks forward being together. The “children” understanding my need to do more than observe, throw me roles to enhance our events, or keep me out of the way.
In the book Being Mortal (highly recommended), Dr. Atul Gawande illustrates how purpose, not medication, extends life and enhances Life. People allowed to live with self-defined purpose live just as long and die much more peacefully as those who are simply medicated.
So where are we now? The pandemic has corralled us into our home space, and the heat is confining us indoors. How do we find meaning?
As a member of a committee preparing to re-enter our church building safely, my role involves studying the essence of worship. What is essential for worship to happen? Applied to my personal life, what is essential for my life to have meaning and satisfaction?
It was easy to be busy in pre-COVID-19 retirement: social obligations, family events, hobbies, and travel kept us busy. Now I face determining the essence of a good retirement when those opportunities are limited. While it is fun to explore new hobbies, too much of anything (reading, TV, games, Zoom, music, decluttering) trivializes the fun. Some activities are simply that: activity. Some are distractions. I will be contemplating which are meaningful.
Pastor Kari asks, “Do we want to go back to January [pre-pandemic] church or is this a time to define a new normal?”
I welcome your thoughts.