by: ~ Fr. Nicholas A. Marziani, Jr., D.Min.

It is interesting how much one learns about life in general from just reading the paper. And in my case, as most of this column’s readers know, that usually means the Wall Street Journal. For this article what caught my commentator’s eye wasn’t the “spiritual” section, Houses of Worship, or anything having to do with the stock and trade (puns intended) of the Journal’s usual purview.

Rather I was intrigued to read the “Ask Encore” column by Glenn Ruffenach in the December 11th edition entitled, “Why Most New Retirees Need Time to Grieve.”

Hmm, I thought, now he’s talking about ME and my LADY in the next couple of years. Already in our mid-60s and quickly approaching the “Big Big 70”, the word “grieve” just popped out at me. Grieve?

Okay, well, I guess any change will cause some measure of discomfort, but grieve is a strong word. As in death. I decided to read further.

Turns out that that vocational withdraw symptoms, to put it that way, are rather common for those of us who trip over that magic moment into full retirement. And Mr. Ruffenach believes he’s found the main element of this discontent. It has to do with the loss of fellowship with an intentional team working toward a common goal.

Which is different from volunteering with various organizations that serve important populations, although that certainly begins to fill that inner void. But what really keeps the juices flowing is the excitement inherent in pursuit of a focused objective such as is true for most pre-retirement work. I guess this may be one of the more neglected aspects of the pastoral ministry for those of us ‘in the business”, so to speak.

We counsel folks in all sorts of transitions, marriage and family issues, loss of parents and even children, etc. Certainly youth ministry has lots of opportunities to serve young people at a critical stage of life. But being available and knowledgeable about later life transitions is not something typically taught in seminaries, but I suppose rather caught through experience.

Which in the end is to say that every day is a new day, and every New Year brings more opportunities to grow – or to get stuck. The choices are ever before us. And with God’s help, we can successfully navigate them all.

Have a great New Year,
 Fr. Nick