I like being a retired old man because my years have earned me the right to be a grumpy curmudgeon. I’ve been waiting for years for this! I like complaining about how much damage the marketing/advertising industry is doing to America by twisting our values. I have lots of gripes about how politicians have lost the ability to care as much about America as they do about their own parties and agendas. I rant and rail against the incredible greed that dominates our financial system and institutions.
But if I do too much complaining, you’ll never know how rich life is for me. I rest in the joy of God’s love and marvel at the delight of my wife, children, grandchildren.
Besides those two foundational joys, there are two areas that enrich my life every day. (I once would have said three but being out in nature is not so big a part of my life anymore.)
Right now I am sitting at my desk, surrounded by four walls of books. I have a large section of history books and usually have three or four of them on my desk at any one time. To the right is literature, philosophy, psychology, social science, art, music, science. There are many shelves of Bible commentaries, theology, spiritual formation. But my favorites are my reference books: Dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases of all sorts.
I wish you could hear right now what beauty is bathing my ears and heart. I’m listening to the Minnesota Public Radio streaming of choral works. A few minutes ago they played Morten Lauridsen’s Les Chansons des Rose. It is rich, warm, gentle, welling up from some place deep within the heart.
Other times I listen to the main MPR channel of classical music or play something from my CD collection: Gregorian chants, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff. I can enjoy in a single hour a simple piano piece by Saint Saens and the almost overwhelming 9th Symphony of Beethoven, followed by Renee Fleming’s chocolaty singing of “Silver Moon” from Dvorak’s “Rusalka.”
Sometimes I spend time digging up old relatives, which is the title my wife gives to my genealogical endeavors. When I think of Civil War Captain Jacob Hayes, my great-grandfather, I sometimes wonder if he ever had the chance to hear even one symphony in his whole lifetime. I can hear a dozen in a day.
How could I not thank the Lord for the rich luxury of life? May your life be ever richer as the years go by. . .