This Sunday, my dear friend and associate pastor Rev. Kathy Burton is retiring. I can’t believe that day has finally arrived. I bet she can’t believe it either. It is one of those things we all talk about, and think about, and prepare for, but it never feels like it will actually happen: graduation, marriage, retirement.
She and her partner Cathy are moving to North Florida soon, and they are very excited. I am glad for them and will miss her badly, but I have to say I am not jealous. I love Amelia Island and Fernandina, the village to which she is moving. Ironically, Bill and I talked about moving there when he retired, but only because the Jacksonville airport is close and I could keep working.
Retirement, however, is not on my bucket list. In fact, I still have a couple careers I want to start. During the past few years, while I have been the pastor of a small church, I’ve been able to add seminary professor and congregational consultant to my list of careers. I recently published my 12th book, and am working on my 13th. I hope, though, that my 14th will be something totally different.
Bill wants to retire so he can have time to do the things he always has wanted to do. Cancer wasn’t one of those things, of course, and it has made us realize that it perhaps isn’t wise to think you’ll have time later. I want him to retire, but I LOVE what I do. It would be what I’d do if I retired and had more time, so I am one of the blessed ones.
I pray that you don’t need cancer to remind you that none of us are promised endless tomorrows. Don’t wait until you graduate, or get married, or retire before you do with your life the things that you love. Oh, I know not everyone can make a living doing what they love, like I do. For that, you have my deepest sympathy. The best I can suggest is you love what you do while you are doing it, and then find a way to do what you love as soon, and as much, as you can. Life is altogether too short to wait until you retire to live it.
I’m proud of my friend Kathy. She and Cathy are retiring early and moving to live where they want to while they are young enough and healthy enough to do the things they dream of doing. You go, girl. That is what we all need to do!
Rev. Michael Piazza