It’s a curious sensation. Over twelve years ago, I officially I retired from my church career. But actually, I only feel really retired since this last month. That feeling was further intensified when on Wednesday, with a pleasant temperature, I sat on the balcony of our apartment, I was literally sitting ‘behind the geraniums’ [A Dutch expression for elderly people who are retired and have become inactive.] All those years since I finished my term as the president of our church in the Netherlands, I still had a rather busy program and worked almost fulltime. But all of a sudden this pattern has ended, or is at least is disarray. All my appointments and trips for the coming months have been canceled and I am busy arranging refunds for already bought air-train- and boat-tickets.
Life has become quite boring and I can well imagine that there are people who are getting quite depressed by their current semi-imprisonment. Fortunately, I am not suffering from any form of depression and my feelings are dominated by one of gratitude that in my family and circle of friends no one has as yet experienced serious consequences of the Corona virus. And fortunately, our hometown with its 23,000 inhabitants, is not a hotbed of infection. According to the regional and local media, there are just a few dozen infections and one person who has died from the virus.
The days run a bit into each other, but I try to keep structure in my life. As always I get up early. The day starts with a walk of about an hour. My wife and I take turns for the necessary shopping at the nearby supermarket. And on Sabbath we listen to, and watch, a sermon by pastor Lex van Dijk, the minister of the Adventist church in Harderwijk, and we follow the on-line service of the Adventist church in Antwerp, which is very inspiring.
It is nice to receive phone calls and emails from people who want to know how we are doing and we also try, more than we usually do, to make contact with people we think will appreciate this.
I’ve always been a bit of a news junkie who follows the news through a range of different channels and that’s definitely the case now. Besides the latest Corona facts, I also want to know what’s going on in the world, and especially in my church. However, I spend most of the day behind my desk. In the coming week I have to write a few articles and must also do some editorial work for the journal SPES CHRISTIANA, which is now published by the Association of Adventist theologians in Europe, and of which I have been appointed editor-in-chief. In addition, I continue to coach a few students in the MA leadership program that is offered to a cohort of (mainly) pastors in Europe by Andrews University, in cooperation with Newbold College. And furthermore, I am diligently working on a new devotional, which mainly targets church leaders, at all levels. Before I sat down to write this blog I just finished nr. 211 of the 366 daily messages!
Well, maybe I will get used to this form of being retired. But to be honest, I hope I can quickly get back to the pattern I have come to enjoy over the past twelve years!