Retreat, the Pandemic and Retirement

A year ago at this time, I was in the midst of a 30-day retreat at a retreat center in Colorado. The silence, the time for prayer, the opportunity to immerse myself in the beauty of nature was healing and wholing (if that’s a word; if not, it should be). Two weeks after I returned, a deadly pandemic became real and much of life as we knew it slowed down or shut down. I was put into the category of those whose volunteer work was too risky because of my age, so options of things to do became limited. By the second week, I realized that this time could be a welcome extension of the silence and withdrawal that had been part of my retreat, although I was now able to use my computer, watch TV and phone others, which had not been part of my retreat.

Now, 10 months later, that withdrawal is wearing a little thin from time to time. The pandemic came about just as I was trying to figure out what it meant to be retired. My hopes for what I would be doing when “retired” were no longer possible, were not really on the horizon anytime soon. Opportunities to do volunteer work; to visit family, friends and other Sisters; to participate in some types of recreational activities I had not had time for before all disappeared. Although I’ve found much to occupy my time, I’m not sure how much of this restlessness is the transition from working full time to being retired, and how much is the enforced inactivity of trying to help diminish the spread of the virus.

I guess the only way to find out is just to keep living one day at a time, fully and wholeheartedly, accepting what comes each day and reflecting on how I can be totally present to the opportunities hidden within. A sense of humor helps!!!

— Blog entry and photo by Sister Joyce Lehman

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