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Cramming for the Final

One of the reasons we moved to North Carolina was because we missed the season changes in Florida. After thirty years in Minnesota where the spring and fall seasons are so short, we moved south to a region without much seasonal change. But when we came to North Carolina we were blessed with wonderfully long springs and falls. The fall leaves can be breathtaking here. The Blue Ridge Parkway has amazing scenic views of the mountains in full color display. When you thought the view could not be any better, the next stop is. Truly, it can easily be sensory overload.

While in Minnesota I would annually attend a weekend silent retreat at the Demontreville Jesuit retreat house. It was a blessed experience. Every year, old Father Stoekel would give the introductory message and it was always the same. He would say “You young guys are here trying to figure out life. You middle aged guys are working through your mid-life crisis. And you old guys are here cramming for the final.” As I have progressed through my retirement years, Fr. Stoekel’s observation about old guys has become more of a reality. The seasons of life change very quickly. Moving from spring into summer and then into fall seems to have flown by. Now in the winter of life it is time to “cram for the final.”

But why do you need to cram for the final? While in college I was never a procrastinator and kept up with my assignments. When final exam time came there was no need to “cram.” All I did was review the material and take the exam. There was no need to “pull an all-nighter.” Our spiritual life should be the same way! If we keep up with our “studies” in our walk with the Lord, retirement will not be a time of cramming but a rich time of a deeper walk with the Lord. Retirement provides time to get closer to the Lord. Over and over, I hear about men who have retired and are bored. I know a gentleman who has been delaying retirement simply because he is afraid that he will not have anything to do. If that is the case, then your work has taken up too much of your life!

As I watch our children grow old, I am reminded of my time in that stage of life. It does not seem that long ago. But on further examination, it was. Time has a way of getting by us quickly. If we prepare properly, we will not have any need to cram for the final.

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