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The Sabbath
Allows us to see the “big picture”

Retirement confronts us with the challenge of seeing and understanding ourselves, our lives and our purposes in living. The same is true of the Sabbath. Some enter into it reflectively and experience God’s presence. Others simply endure Mass, hibernate in front of the TV and spend the treasure of the Sabbath on fool’s gold and glitzy emptiness.
    In my retirement, I’ve been enabled to see the “big picture” of my life. I see the canopy of stars overhead at night and the sun’s morning rays filtering through the trees. I hear God’s voice whispering to me in nature’s sounds. God’s pervasive and constant presence surrounds me in an unending sabbatical, which is filled with wonder and reflectivity. Even though my eyes are in the first stages of cataract development, I see life now through a new lens.

    The basic equation in all of life is: God offers – we respond. Now, there’s no question that God offers His presence to us always and everywhere. The controlling issue, however, is: How do I respond? The long sabbatical of retirement has given me the grace to see my past, with its decisions, diversions and degrading sins, as I never did before. I ponder and reflect as never before. I can be aware of His presence, actively aware of it and respond to His constant and ever-present love as never before. I pray now as never before.
    You and I have many sabbath hours that come to us during ordinary weekdays as well as Sundays. They are God’s gifts to us. What do we do with them? How do we respond to God’s ever-constant presence to us? Wonder, reflectivity and humility should be our gifts to Him.
    All of us are tempted to drift into aimless indolence. In their senior years, people are often challenged to overcome inertia induced by diminishing physical energy, mild depression and loneliness. One of the greatest temptations put to us by the evil one is the temptation to do nothing, to disengage ourselves from others and from God and to wallow in indolence.
    Sundays, other weekday “sabbath times” and retirement may be challenges. Nevertheless, we must remember that every challenge is a disguised opportunity. And throughout life, we have many opportunities to take a look at the “big picture.” Are we fixated on the trees – or can we see the forest? We can then see the hand of God at work in our lives while giving Him our own Magi gifts – namely our wonder and our reflective gaze upon the gift of His presence to us each day.

– Fr. Charles Irvin is the founding editor of FAITH Magazine and is now living an active retirement in DeWitt.

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