Tired of Retirement
AS WORDS GO, retirement is not that sexy. Its nuances are obvious, even mundane. The most common usage indicates the cessation of one’s economic activity and a new phase of life when one no longer seeks remuneration. Some use the verbal form to describe going to bed. But mostly retirement describes a time when one no longer has a paying job and can travel often, sleep in, golf every other day, watch daytime TV, fish, hunt, garden, hang out with grandkids, volunteer, read mystery novels, take leisurely strolls with one’s spouse, etc. There is no end to this list. In short, if one is healthy and has enough financial resources, retirement is that wondrous goal for which we have been working our whole lives.
As it happens, when I joined Seattle Pacific’s faculty in 1973, talk of retirement was in the air. I became aware of this almost immediately. This was certainly not because I was thinking of my own retirement, but many of my colleagues were. A critical mass was nearing age 65, which back then meant it was time to retire.
This situation was perhaps most evident in the School of Religion (known today as the School of Theology). I was 29 at the time. My closest colleague in age was 58. He and the rest of the religion faculty retired within seven years, making me a senior faculty member! Indeed, 65 was such a magic number for retirement in those days that a great fuss was made when Winifred Weter, legendary professor of classics, postponed her retirement to age 66 so that she could achieve the milestone of 40 years of service.
“I guess it is fair to say I flunked retirement, but I am having the time of my life.”
When I attained the age of 65, however, I had zero interest in retirement. I loved my job and wanted to keep going. Finally, after 46 years (!), I retired in June 2019. I had planned to put in 50 years, but my wife had already retired, so it seemed prudent for me to join her.
Once retired, we moved to Idaho and bought a new home. We were there about 10 minutes when I tired of retirement. So, I signed a contract for a new book. I became a priest associate at St. Michael’s, the Episcopal cathedral in Boise. I started calling area pastors to introduce myself and let them know I was available for speaking engagements. And, most recently, I launched a podcast, The Bible You Thought You Knew. The podcast allows me to share the insights I have gained teaching Scripture for nearly half a century.
I guess it is fair to say I flunked retirement, but I am having the time of my life. I am still able to do some of the standard retirement activities. However, I have not retired in the least from teaching, preaching, and biblical studies. I am not sure I ever will.
Before “flunking retirement,” Frank Spina was a professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Seattle Pacific University and Seattle Pacific Seminary. His podcast, The Bible You Thought You Knew, is available on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, and all standard podcast platforms, or find it at faspina.com.