March 1: A New Beginning

Today is the first day of March. Today is the first day of my official “retirement” from professional ministry. The announcement was made in October, work ended as January closed, the party is in two days. But today is the first official day of not being on a payroll. And I have to say that I am feeling… well, all of it.

www.ivan-art.com

Truth be told I’ve just spent the early morning completing job applications. One for teaching, one for a position as a “complaints auditor”. Ironically as I read the description for complaints auditor, it would seem that my years of work in the church are actually exceptional training. No doubt the sleuth part of the auditor functions would also be rewarding for the part of me that loses hours exploring random topics.

My sleuthing energies these days emerges as I try to imagine how the skills and talents that I’ve acquired (and those still in hiding) might be put to good use in this next chapter of life. I recognize that this pause in my professional life is an invaluable opportunity and on good days I dive into the processes of inquiry and discovery.

Not all days are good days. Quite frankly most days are a generous sprinkling of the breadth of human emotions. So accustomed to defining ourselves by our professional identities, to set one’s professional identity aside leaves one starkly naked in the public square. To say I am unemployed belies the intentionality of this life place, to use the word retired (my preferred descriptor) implies a professional finitude that may be misleading. While I am clear about the completion of retirement for the particular profession, there is an untapped energy within that is awaiting a new direction. But what’s the sound byte that I offer to the “what do you do?” question that is the foundation of small talk? How do I describe this place on my LinkedIn profile?

March Snow by Ivan Koulakov www.ivan-art.com

Today is March 1 and the morning delivered a final blast of snow to cover the brown Missouri earth. Spring is fast upon but is not yet here. Lest we jump the gun, we must begin any outing today by cleaning our cars.  This new beginning starts below the blanket of white, deep in the earth, its form not yet visible. I would rush the crocus, but my aggravation will only serve to stunt its growth. Instead I pause to notice what is here, taking notice of the abundance of grace on this first morning in March. Healthy engaged children, a warm home filled with funny felines, and a sweet love story that will bring my beloved home again this evening.

What do I do? I pause to take notice. And this, this is enough.