A sign of advancement among emerging readers is when they move from stories that are told beginning-to-end to stories that have much more content between the beginning and the end. These are known as chapter books and I remember well when I personally was old enough to read them.
My husband enjoys reading books one chapter at a time. I was astounded when I learned this about him early in our marriage – my reader style is to read until my eyesight is too blurry to see the words on the page. I have learned from his example the value of savoring a book a chapter at a time and have developed some patience when reading certain types of books.
We’ve all heard the expression about closing a chapter in our lives and moving on to the next one. I have recently realized hat my retirement is shaping up as a series of chapters that benefit from being savored. Earlier stages in my life spanned longer time frames and blended from one to the next with little inner awareness. There was a repetition of seasons, occasions, tasks and responsibilities that cycled through time and again with a certain amount of predictability.
Slightly more than a year into retirement, I am recognizing the variety in the chapters that wrap themselves around the activities I engage in now. In the past year, I have cultivated my interest in music and photography. I have renewed a relationship with elementary education through my opportunity to volunteer at St. Stephen Lutheran School. I have served a term on a board for a music organization and worked my first election. I have traveled to beautiful places and have learned complex new things through both live and online classes.
Now I am into the second year in our new home and while some things, like the church seasons, are predicable and dependable, other things are wide open to choice. As summer approaches, I am free to select from any number of interesting activities and opportunities. Finding temporary jobs to build up my travel fund is a big unknown, but not a scary one. Working is a choice, not a necessity, at this time. Exploring the opportunities I’ve been offered recently to turn my photography into a business is intriguing.
The idea that is taking hold in my heart, however, is the thought of writing another novel. I love being in the initial stage of an idea growing into characters and a setting and a theme that will allow my imagination free reign. I love embarking on research and following paths of fact into fiction. This chapter is to be savored, not rushed. While I really want to know how my characters turn out, I am content to learn to know them a chapter at a time.
All my life I have known the verse from Philippians 4:6:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
I prayed this verse many times during dark chapters in my life, seeking God’s direction on how to escape from whatever trouble I was experiencing. Gaining insight and wisdom from the previous chapters in my life, I now pray this verse from a different perspective. Instead of starting from a place of worry and ending at being thankful, I start with being thankful and stop at simply telling God what I think I need. I don’t need to worry about how things will turn out. I have learned to trust that He’s got it all figured out for me.
Whatever the next chapters reveal about my life, I am going to strive to savor them and take the time to read between the lines, to absorb and appreciate what God is writing there.