Katie and I have been married for 44 years, which we celebrated a couple of weeks ago by spending a couple of days in Ann Arbor. I found a good deal on Priceline, and there are restaurants and shops there we like. And plenty of trails. Walking together is an important part of our summers, since during the winter we walk separately, on a treadmill. Ann Arbor has parks and paved trails through gently rolling hills. We expected to walk a couple of hours a day.
It rained, of course. All day, both days. You can always walk at the mall, of course, but there is nothing special about that. But we went out for brunch both days, after a slow morning reading and drinking tea in our room. And later, once in Ypsilanti and once downtown, we were able to get in a few steps around town, between showers, dropping into a few shops. Although it was not the weekend we imagined, it was the weekend we needed. We were more relaxed than we expected to be—resting, laughing and eating, pleasures we enjoy all the time, but in a different setting and with different expectations seemed more delightful. The different expectations, of course, were that there were none. Most of our days are full of them.
For an anniversary, there was surprisingly little nostalgia or remembering. Our single most significant conversation was about our future. Both in our mid-sixties, we figure we likely have another 20 years. We are reasonably healthy and take better than average care of ourselves. Yet we are also well aware that one or both of us might drop dead this month. The Apostle James does well to warn us about presumption. Our life is but a vapor, he reminds us, and we have no plans we do not hold loosely; new doors may open and current options may disappear. But it doesn’t hurt to have a plan, no matter how uncertain they might be.
After tying down some loose ends, we like the idea of serving somewhere for a while, perhaps overseas, without needing to raise support or deplete the resources of an organization or ministry where our abilities and experiences can make a difference. Beyond that there are legacy issues, time yet to write, to teach, and to encourage. Much of our legacy involves our own children and grandchildren, sharing what we have learned about the Lord’s grace and faithfulness, about His beauty and Glory. We have few things left to do that matter more. I have a sense this will require more relaxing and reflecting; there are changes in tempo and even priorities that lie ahead. At least some of our future is an intentional letting go, releasing personal ambition and pride. And some of this letting go is of life itself, preparing for a home going that glorifies God through the way we leave our money, manage our relationships, and say goodbye.
Conversations like this are welcome and needed, at any stage of life.
And this anniversary may have been the best yet.