One of the blessings of the pandemic is that our Home Group, through our church, continued to meet each week over Zoom. There were so many days where I spent hours and hours on virtual meetings all day at work such that by the end of the day I was “Zoomed Out”. However, on Tuesday nights, after being away from my office for over a year, having the chance to virtually gather with our Life group of eleven senior and “nearly” senior adults was such a joy.
Each Sunday we would watch our service online and listen to the Pastor’s sermon. We have a curriculum that includes a series of questions to consider on Monday so that we will be ready for our Tuesday virtual fellowship. We would share what we learned, have some great discussions and then pray for each other and the needs of our friends and family.
What usually started out as a tiring commitment at 7 became exciting and energizing by 8:30 p.m. when we would wrap up. I have come to truly love these people more and more over this past year. We have walked through sadness, grief, and loss. However, we have also celebrated victories, answers to prayer, and happy events.
In our state, people in our age group and in our situations were prioritized for the vaccination. We all feel blessed and grateful that once we were two weeks past our second shot that the CDC guidelines affirmed we could gather once again in person, without masks. This exciting reunion occurred just ten days before my retirement.
When Mike and I got in the truck to drive in person together, my husband looked at me and said, “Doesn’t this feel weird that we are actually going to someone’s house tonight?” It did feel strange, almost as if we were breaking a rule.
When we arrived I was surprised to see a big banner, a bouquet of flowers and five amazing desserts. All for me! This was the first in-person celebration of my retirement. I think I was the most excited to actually hug my friends after such a long time of not touching anyone.
One of our sweetest members, a beautiful kind widow, handed me a huge bag containing a gorgeous handmade quilt. It is just the right size to cover me when I’m sitting in a big chair and watching a movie. She said, “God told me that you needed this!” I believed her because our furnace had been out for the last five days and I had been really cold at night. I couldn’t wait to get home and snuggle into my new soft blanket.
I know that many of us have felt a loss of connection. Our mental health has suffered and at times our hope has wavered. It has been easy to zone out watching endless Netflix movies and not take the time to grow spiritually. But celebrating my retirement with these kind caring people blessed me.
Just having a group of people that keeps me accountable and connected has been a lifesaver. Nearly all of them are already rocking their retirement. They serve our community at the food bank and as coaches. Many of them care for grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Others passionately volunteer for causes they believe in. Those still working bless others with their patience, kindness, and compassion. We weathered this worldwide storm together and now we can gather again. It was such a blessing to celebrate my milestone with people I love and who love me.
Only a few more days and I’ll join the world of retirement!