Saturday, September 01, 2007

Two Less at the Table

I'm not afraid of growing old, or of dying. But there is something unsettling about the fact that it happens, regardless of who we are, what we do. It's not so much about it happening to me as to others. This week, Tuesday, was an unsettling day for me with regards to age and mortality, as I experienced first hand the effects of both.

As principal of the local church school, I am also the Educational minister of our church, which automatically made me a member of the church board. I've been attending this predominantly male board for two years, now, and am only just now beginning to feel comfortable with the group. For these two years, there have been three other women meeting around the table along with me: two who serve as elders, and the church clerk (the science teacher at school, and my VP for the past two years).

This past Tuesday, for the first time, I was the only woman at the table (one of the elders came 1/2 hour late). No big deal, really, except that two are permanently gone. Our science teacher retired last year and has moved to Maine. She won't be coming back to serve on the board, although I expect that someone will fill her shoes soon. But one of the two female elders passed away suddenly on Monday afternoon. She, too, had just retired and was preparing to move. She was just waiting for her house to sell, when she experienced sustained stomach pains and went into to the hospital for tests. Seven weeks later she was dead. The quickness of it all was shocking.

The absence of these two ladies, friends of many years now, got me to thinking about the aging process. About how you work hard to get to the place where you can comfortably retire and enjoy a slower, less hectic pace of life. You get to that point, and it can go either really well, or horribly awry. And the quality of the life you led to get there really has nothing to do with it. Both these ladies were good, deeply spiritual, faithful servants. Both these ladies were thoughtful and generous with their time and energies. Both lived alone, one widowed, the other never married. Both were widely recognized for their cheerful and willing attitudes. Both were looking forward to enjoying retirement. One made it, the other did not. One, even though she's gone from the community she was born into, is now finding a new niche, another place in which to make a difference. That was the plan of the other, but instead, she is resting quietly and passively, awaiting the Resurrection.

So...the question comes, which one has the better retirement? You can hardly feel sorry for the one who has escaped the miseries of this world and only has a short sleep until she sees her Savior face to face. And the life the other now has is certainly not to be disdained for its peaceful pace. Why is it, then, that I feel only sorrow for the one and envy of the other? Maybe it's not really sorrow for her so much as it is sorrow for the rest of us who will miss her. It definitely is envy of other, though =)


Lindah said...

yes, facing one's mortality is not an easy thing, and yet, as you inferred, the hope of heaven and face-to-face with our Savior is NOT a bad thing. When we are younger, some of us hold so tightly to this life. I know I did. What relief and peace when my perspective embraced the coming reality of that face-to-face. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine--here and now--and forever in heaven. Have a great week!

Rondi said...

Lindah--Thanks for your comment and well wishes!

Heidi said...

I didn't know Sandy B retired and moved to Maine. What a change! (Also, would I have known the elder? Very sudden and sad.)