This weekend is the bi-annual convention of the American Choral Directors Association. Two years ago this weekend I was sitting in a concert at the convention and it became clear to me that my time to retire had come … an epiphany. For months I had struggled with the thought of retirement but when I heard the song, “I will not leave you comfortless” I knew the struggle was over. The entire concert by the Santa Fe Desert Choral moved me to tears. (The concert is posted on YouTube)
I’m not fully adjusted to the retired life but the change is an opportunity for new adventure and life experience. Yesterday I sat in the pew at the Church on the Hill in Sighisoara and reflected on my choirs. The sound of the choirs and my interaction with the students is what I miss. The memory of “In paradisum” which we sang in that space is still fresh. I know it’s a cliche to say but the 40 years of teaching went by so quickly that I regret that I rarely stopped to listen to life. The formal school teaching is behind but I often find myself thinking about the experience.
I enjoyed my time in the classroom. I think having my boys in school heightened my joy in teaching. Rarely, if ever, did I go home thinking I should get out of this job. I often felt sorry for my colleagues who were struggling to make it from day to day. I think the joy came because in the classes or choirs we were working toward a common goal. Our goal was to make music that inspired us and our audiences, and to honor each other and work for a better understanding of who we are as children of God.
Now as I think about retirement I reflect on my past and see how my teaching connects to my present situation. The 40 years prepared me for much of what I’m doing now. I’m still teaching but with a very different perspective. I’m teaching, but it’s very clear I’m learning more than I’m teaching. Whether it be in the wood shop or with the teens or the children’s choir or the adult choir, the work I do with each group is built on the building blocks of my first 40 years. I am blessed. I have the opportunity to choose, to use the gifts I have in benefiting others, to share the love of Jesus.
I’m inspired through making music, working with friends, making furniture and learning about life.