I have learned something I want to share with you.

Having been retired now for three months, I have learned something. I have learned how easy it is to define ourselves— who we are, what we are about, what’s really inside us— by how others treat us. As I have already told you, I am an ordained Priest in the Episcopal church. What I have learned about the human experience is how easy it is to let titles and roles and status determine our sense of self. Not having a title any more was an eye opener. It is very easy to feed the hunger inside to have a sense of purpose and meaning, by the food others throw at us. I got totally wrapped up in this.
In late July, I decided I needed to create a business card that I can hand out to others — in a way to “legitimize” my retirement. I downloaded a business card template from Avery labels and started to work. I set the Episcopal shield on one side and typed my name in. It all looked great until I noticed there was nothing under my name as if to tell people this is who I am. I bottomed out. It hit me like a rock. I needed a title to be. What I ultimately had done in the attempt to feed that hunger deep down was to say to myself “I am what I do”
This inner hunger is a real thing. It is as if God (yes there is a God— more as we move on) kept one piece of the puzzle of our souls and we are hungry to find it. I believe it is part of the human experience to try to find something tangible (meaning in this world) to “connect” to. In that way we will find a sense of meaning and purpose above and beyond what we do or how people see us. Are we not more than what we do, than the role we play? Are we not more than our assets or the car we drive?
John wrote his story of Jesus long after Jesus’s death and resurrection that changed the life of so many people (again, more as we move on). Christian communities had been around for a while. In his story he puts these words in Jesus’ mouth: “I am the bread of life. Whoever has faith in will never be hungry” (I took some liberties here!) I believe that now more than ever having discovered how I had tried to feed this inner hunger myself — by what I do and the title I held.
We are hungry. There is nothing wrong with this. It is part of being human. What I got an insight into is that who we are has to do with God and God’s presence within us. Call it grace. May we eat of it and never be hungry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *