Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rest, Reflection, and....Retirement?

I think the theme of my life lately is: I'm tired. Roger and I are working a LOT. Between....
  1. The regular running of the business (usually unto itself a 60 hour per week endeavor....a few glitches this week had me working about 18 hours more than usual)
  2. Moving the business to Mechanicsville (No, we don't have a moving date. Yes, we would love your assistance when we finally know when we are moving. Yes, we are excited about the move but it is CRAZY stressful right now.) I'll be much happier when the permit is finally approved by the county and work may continue as usual.
  3. Continuing to work on CJSTUF matters. Thanks to everyone who has sent in their donations this week. Still working on final tallies as donations trickle in. We are also getting ready to launch version 2.0 of the website (it will look GREAT) and are working on our nonprofit filing status.
Speaking of CJSTUF, we do have need for ONE volunteer to help Meredith with some clerical/secretary duties (mainly help addressing thank you notes). If you have some interest in this, email me. First person to do so wins the prize!

Aside from all of that, there is the "normal" business of laundry, cooking, cleaning the house, regular exercise...oh yeah...a LIFE. There hasn't been much effort on the domestic side lately as Roger and I are both burning candles at both ends. Just nobody come over for a visit any time soon. Or do so with low expectations.

The approach of yet another holiday and the emotions rear their ugly head. It's not that Easter holds any kind of sentimentality for me related to Charlotte. It's just another holiday where everyone is happy and excited and celebrating and I'm...not. I'm just not feeling it and to pretend that I am would only make it worse. In fact, I don't think it is the holiday itself that is the problem. It is all the extra fluff that goes on in the name of the holiday that makes me a little crazy. Even before losing Charlotte, I have always had a general issue with things that people do in the name of a holiday (especially a religious holiday) that really just speaks to the base nature of our secular consumerism. Or something that is done out of "obligation"...because we always do it that way.

Example: Roger overheard a few people "complaining" about the number of Easter Egg Hunts that they were taking their kids to over the last week or so. Why complain? If you don't want to do something, don't do it. There's nothing inherently Christian about egg hunts anyway. They really delve back into the pagan fertility rituals of Spring and were just adopted by Christians along the way...possibly as a way of appeasing and/or assimilating new converts to the faith.

Along with that, I have no patience for Chreasters. What is a Chreaster, you might ask? Well, some of you may have your own name for these folks. They're the ones who show up at church only on Christmas and Easter...or at other such times as they feel "obligated" to attend church. It's not just about attending or not attending services either. Chreasters also celebrate holidays (mainly Christmas and Easter) for the sole purpose of acquiring more stuff for themselves or for others. The focus is not on How Will I Use Lent and Easter to Help Me Grow Spiritually This Year? but What Is Going Into My Kid's Easter Basket This Year?

These are the people that go WAY overboard with the Easter baskets and the Santa presents and the gifts to anyone and everyone without delving into the true reason for the season. These are the people who find any excuse to get drunk on Mardi Gras but don't really give up anything for Lent. (Lent...what's that?? Oh, yeah, I gave up chocolate for Lent once. I mean I tried.). Interestingly, both seasons leading up to the biggest celebrations in the Christian calendar (Easter and Christmas) are periods for sacrifice and reflection (Advent and Lent) but to look at our society's focus on the acquisition of materials for Easter baskets and Christmas presents, you'd never realize that. I think because it is SO overblown by our commercial culture I do everything I can in my mind to rear back against it.

Now I'm not so righteous or holy as to advocate that everyone should go to church every week. I know that sometimes I just don't go. And for many different reasons. My spirituality is a very important part of my life and it's very personal. I know people who are incredibly spiritual and never (or rarely) set foot in a church. That's not what this is about. I'm sure there are also a variety of reasons why some people only show up for church on these dates and I want to make it clear: I am not judging your decision. Last year was the first year that I could ever remember that I didn't go to Easter service and it just felt strange to me. I'm certainly used to the Chreaster crowd year after year and I have nothing against anyone personally who follows this habit.

It's more the idea that having a Happy Easter has nothing to do with the size of your basket or the number of egg hunts you attended or the pictures you took with the Easter Bunny (again...a pagan symbol) in your new outfits. These secular acts don't make you a part of a circle of faith. To me, Easter is about realizing the grace that the Holy Trinity creates in our lives through the sacrifice that Jesus made. It's remembering that grace every day as we live our lives and finding some time to reflect on how we can use that grace to make us better people. This actually starts to get into Pentecost and all that the Trinity entails but that's a Sunday School lesson for another day. It's all connected.

There is another part in all this and maybe it speaks to the reason why I now have little patience for things that never used to bother me. I am starting to understand the point of view of retired individuals. Now, again, without generalizing too much, I know from conversations that I have had with friends and family and from general observations in life that people who are retired have a distinct view on the world. They have worked the 9-5 jobs, they have spent their time in the "rat race" and they have now made a conscious decision to leave that way of life for another. Some people spend their retirement on the golf course, others travel, others continue to "work" but in different capacities (maybe more volunteer endeavors or a part time job in their chosen field). The thing that I notice about individuals who are now retired is that they finally realize what truly matters in life. It's not about doing things out of obligation or because society says so. You realize at a certain point that you are only going to have a finite amount of time left on this Earth and doing things out of obligation or duty is just a waste of time. While I'm nowhere close to the point that I can retire from my job, sometimes I think that maybe I've been forced into early retirement from Parenthood and that gives me a whole new perspective on the world.

Which brings us to How I Spent My Easter Holiday. We planted Charlotte. The butterfly bush that was a gift from the Glass family was delivered this week so this morning, Roger and I took the seedling, her ashes, and the biodegradable urn, and planted Charlotte in the sunniest spot we have in the yard. We plan to add a few more plants to the bed. Haven't decided yet whether it will be more butterfly plants or a few daisies. It was a beautiful day and it felt good to be out in the garden working with our hands. You can see more of the pictures here.

May your Easter journey allow you to find the true peace that passes all understanding.

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