Posted by: crosspeace | August 27, 2009

Facing a Precipice

Another precipice lies right in front of me. As a matter of fact my toes are dangling over the edge. I don’t like heights and find that standing close to the edge makes my breath short and choppy and my mind sort of goes blank. No matter how often I have stood in such places the feeling is the same. Sometimes I reel backward only to be drawn again to this edge. Sometimes I just jump with wild abandon not sure if the jump was to experience whatever new awaits or whether I am jumping just to alleviate the anxiety of facing the cliff.

Tomorrow will be the last day of full-time work for me. After more than forty years of working life I am getting ready to retire. Tomorrow, in fact. For the most of that time I have been a teacher in public and private schools, in community colleges, at church, in my day to day encounters in life. I teach. That is what I do. I am called to that and somehow cannot do anything else. In a way I feel like the only thing that will happen is that I won’t be getting up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready and head out for class and I won’t be getting paid. These are significant things. The sleeping in part I can handle. The not getting paid part, I am not so sure.

Currently I am teaching in a group home for youthful offenders. The job is challenging but no worse than public school teaching now-a-days. Afterall every one of these kids sat in someone’s classroom last year until the rest of their lives caught up with them and the court system directed them this way. It is a great job. I work with fewer than ten students, they are a captive audience (literally) and I have a staff of counselors and others who stand at the ready to help out when problems arise. (They do, every day but, unlike public school, the problems are solved and the kids move on from where they left off.) There is a kid in the hall right now in crisis. She washed her hair last night and it is frizzy this morning. She is distraught because she is out of “hair grease” and has to go on a field trip today and be honored at a luncheon. She is out of sorts and near meltdown. The problem will be solved. She will be at lunch and things will be fine. I am constantly aware of the fact that if I won the lottery I could not go to Broadway and buy a ticket for some of the drama to which I am priveleged  to see every day. I am serious. It is great and yet tragic in that in another setting this girl would be so out of sorts that she probably would wind up getting expelled or arrested if she were not here. It is a Godsend and torment at the same time for them. That’s what I mean. I love all this business but I am tired. I need a break and need to find a way to better use my gifts and yet not abandon these kids. I am tired and need to be re-tired. Not the sitting around, watching The View every day and then taking a nap kind of retired but the sort of retired where you take your experience and your gifts and use them in a way that maximizes resources and energies for the best effect. I am not sure what that looks like exactly Like I said. I am standing with my toes hanging over a cliff. The air below is so foggy, I can’t see if the drop is three feet or if it is the Grand Canyon. It makes me nervous and feeling a little guilty.

If I were a spiritual director I might want to explore with this person why they were leaving and what God seemed to be saying in this situation. I might ask what passage of Scripture or Biblical story might speak to this. I might ask the person if there were a Psalm that spoke to the situation. In a way I feel like Abraham as he gets ready to leave a perfectly good neighborhood in order to move to another one not so well known. I relate to Abraham because he was so human. He was not beyond telling a good lie to further his purposes and to protect his butt. He wanted what he could not have and acted… well, human. I relate to that. I feel called to go on a new journey and don’t even have to completely clean up my act beforehand.

The place where I work has accepted a proposal that I have made to be an “educational consultant” for them. I will plan lessons, help to train staff to be teachers of sorts, tutor the kids, and handle the grading and other duties which wear teachers down. I will plan field trips and educational activities outside the home and will lay the groundwork for getting them tickets to the theater and museums and restaurants and all the things their impoverished lives never afforded them.  I will be able to do things for them that I do not have the time nor energy to do now. I will meet with friends whose life has been blessed and twist their arms to help these kids out. I will take time to study and pray and to see what God has in store for me. I will blog. I will spend time in a new community and will grow by what they have to share. I will learn.

As I stand on this precipice, knees shaking and not too entirely sure that I have heard the voice of God say “go” I look out into the fog with hope, desperation, joy, fear and expectation. One, two, three, Geronimo!!!


  1. “…Geronimo!!! ” — have you landed yet?

  2. Hey blog admin check this out!

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