A long time ago, I was talking to a retired couple who were taking a cruise to Mexico. The conventional wisdom that they offered to explain why they were taking yet another cruise was “We might as well do it now while we are still able to enjoy it.” I agreed… why not?
However since Fr. Peter Gillquist’s falling asleep in the Lord, this conversation has returned to haunt me.
Let me make it clear from the beginning that I am not against vacations. I take vacations. What bothers me is the conventional wisdom. Knowing that you only have a few years left, a few years in which you will be able to get about and do things, a few years before you won’t have the health and resources to do what you want to do; knowing that you are at this point in your life, what do you really want to do? In what do you want to invest? In your enjoyment?
It seems to me that for most people and for most of their lives just making a living and raising a family takes almost all their energy and focus. Their goal and great labor is to make a living and raise a family as Christians. Very seldom do we get a chance, a real chance, to give ourselves in any significant way to doing those things that Jesus said would really matter on the Day of Judgement: visit prisoners, feed the hungry, visit the sick, cloth the naked, or “give it all and follow” in some concrete way.
Retirement is tricky. Our culture tells us that if we work for thirty or forty years, we deserve to play for as long as we are able. But as Christians, is that really what we want to do? Maybe retirement is an opportunity to serve Christ in ways we were unable to serve Him while the children were at home and we were busy making a living. Or maybe it’s the time to take yet another cruise.