Readings: Psalm 21; Isaiah 24:1-16a; I Thessalonians 4:1-12
You have given her(him) her(his) heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of her (his) lips. For you met her(him) with rich blessings…You bestow on her(him) blessings forever; and you make her(him) glad with the joy of your presence. Psalm 21:2-3, 6
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
In 1998, I began making monthly payments on a house in Santa Fe, my husband’s and my planned retirement home. Over the next 24 years, aided by good tenants who faithfully paid their rent, I chipped away at making the dream of moving to Santa Fe mortgage-free a reality. On the day covid hit – don’t we all remember what we were doing that fateful Friday? – I was at the bank wiring the last money to pay off this house. After I asked the teller to take a commemorative photo of me holding the wire transfer paperwork, I went out to my car and cried for a long time. What had been a 24 year sustained labor of hope and commitment had finally been achieved. I was relieved, proud, and fearful that something would happen to prevent us from retiring from our careers and moving.
We all know the advice to be wary of expecting too much because reality has a tendency to not match our fantasies. I had had many detailed fantasies of what my life in New Mexico would someday look like. I visualized myself hanging a chili pepper ristra on our front door, symbolically signifying that after a long life of working non-stop both professionally and raising three children, I would now finally be home. I frequently told my friends that soaking in the deep quiet of the desert and participating in Nia classes and finding a church supportive of my beliefs were all on the future agenda once I finally landed in Santa Fe. My most desired objective was to finally spend large blocks of quality time with my husband — uninterrupted, free of job or community or parenting duties – just the two of us. As I aged, I had a fantasy of being accepted into a woman network I affectionately called my crone clan. Ah – so many plans for NEXT.
Two months ago, that long-hoped/planned/and-worked-for NEXT became a NOW. My husband and I, both fully retired with all kids launched, moved into our Santa Fe home. As today’s Psalm verse observes, I have been given … [my] heart’s desire[s]. Nothing has been withheld from me, and more added than I ever imagined: significant because I have an excellent imagination and had made a hobby of doing possibility thinking all those years. My dream deferred (thanks to Langston Hughes for that apt word choice) has become a reality. Have there been disappointments? Depressing reality checks? Maybe, mildly, but in the main, I am “joyful with gladness” and definitely having an “attitude of thanksgiving.”
It is freeing to finally be living in the NOW. I’m not making daily plans, sacrifices, or decisions to try to ensure a yearned for NEXT. I have been given more than I ever hoped for and in more colorful and meaningful ways. For the first time in a life defined by striving, I am content. I am in nature every day; my health is strong; my beloved and I have shifted from living parallel lives together to co-creating in our shared nest (cooking, home projects, visioning); and through exposure to the tri-cultures here I am learning a great deal. The “requests of [my] lips” have been manifest. I am noticing, “keeping alert in it” and appreciating my awesome NOW. I no longer think about my NEXT. I am immensely present and thankful. Finally.
Offered by Jill Fredrickson, child of God.
4 thoughts on “Living in the Now, Not the Next – Finally”
Thank you for your words on living in the NOW – such a necessity for the spiritual life. Peace, Johnna
As someone who retired in August I was totally taken with your story. There is so much preparation for retirement (and that’s if you’re lucky…so many people can’t retire and have to keep working…I think of those people often)—and then you wonder if you’re going to be able to enjoy it. Thanks for this.
Interesting you mention being in the bank. An old banker friend of mine was fond of saying that yesterday is a canceled check, tomorrow is a promissory not, today is the only cash we have on hand–let’s spend it wisely.
I love this! Thanks, Bill. Peace, Johnna
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