A Day in the Life of a Retired Bishop

Can I interest you in a glimpse at what a day in the life of a retired bishop looks like? To be exact, December 15 2009?

I usually get up at about 5 A.M., wash up, shave and get out to my study as soon as possible. Here in Florida the study is a room on the side of our place which I call my shack, a rustic but comfortable space with glass on two sides and the basics for pleasurable work – a computer, printer, a few reference books and a work table where I spend satisfying hours almost every day.

Out here at 5:30 A.M. I look out on an environment that is still dark and quiet, and I have time alone for the Scriptures and prayer. How refreshing! I meditate on the Lord Jesus who gave his life for me, and who is in me. I acknowledge how much I need his grace moment-by-moment, and reflect on what I believe he has placed me in the world to do. I also offer petitions for a string of needs in family and among friends, and for the church in the world – always revisiting unanswered prayers I repeat in faith daily.

Kathleen calls me in at 6:30 A.M. and together we do 30 minutes of exercise to a Leslie Sansone DVD. It’s called Walk and Firm For Older Adults. We know this is really good for us – both in body and soul. Then we eat breakfast together and spend some time reading from (at present) Jeremiah, and praying together. By 8 A.M. we have set our goals for the day.

Yesterday, back in my shack, I completed work on a piece I’ve called, Questions I Would Like To Ask the Virgin Mary. This is Advent – the four weeks prior to Christmas — and I’ve been teaching a Sunday night congregation on the opening passages of St. Luke’s Gospel. For believers especially, the coming of our Our Lord in human flesh is a stunning truth. Yesterday’s effort was to capture in writing some of the things I myself have been pondering during Advent. I’ve put the piece on my blog and also submitted it to an editor for possible publication.

At 12 noon I went in for a good, tasty spread. Our custom is to have our main meal at noon. It’s more healthful, we believe, than a main meal in the evening, and t gives us time to connect. Then, after a short nap I am usually back in my shack for further study by 2 P.M. And most of the time there there are no urgent telephone calls, consultations, committee meetings, and short trips away — all necessary and valuable — as in the busy past.

My other major assignment yesterday was to read through the 12 chapters of Daniel and start creating a chart of the book. In the New Year the Sunday night lessons will be from passages in Daniel. I don’t know this book as well as I should so on the days between now and New Years I will spend time reading and studying it.

At 12 noon I went indoors for the noon meal, our main meal of the day. After a leisurely repast during which we shared our interests we took time for a quick nap and by 2 P.M. I was back in my shack, my favorite place to be.

As one of yesterday’s incidentals, its pleasant distractions, I talked by long distance with our daughter, Carolyn. She told me of a conversation she had with a new acquaintance in her school, a young teacher who is thinking a lot about marriage and family. This friend shared with Carolyn the following idea: when girls are growing up their fathers should take them on a date occasionally – something interactive like bowling, or roller blading, or even a lunch or picnic. Then later when she begins to date, this teacher believes, such treatment would be in her mind as a model of what a girl should expect from the treatment of a man. The idea’s worth pondering!

It reminded me of a time when I took a 10-year-old granddaughter to lunch. We went to a buffet. Among the other tasty foods, I took a helping of shrimp. But she had never tasted shrimp so she didn’t take any. While we were eating I offered her one of mine. She liked it and, after that — one shrimp at a time — she cleaned the rest off my plate. I chuckled inside and was glad she felt so comfortable with me!

Late yesterday afternoon I went indoors. My wife, Kathleen, was reading Sarah Palin’s new book, Going Rogue. Later, during our evening sandwich-apple-and-hot-drink together, she told me about it. She is really impressed with this woman. She finds her down-to-earth, smart, real, and apparently very open about her Christian faith.

So, what did we do last evening? Kathleen’s preference was a game of Scrabble. We don’t follow all the rules or use the timer so this is pretty much our game. I’m not as much taken with Scrabble as she is, but we play and more often than not she beats me. Whoever wins, it’s a good way to exercise the brain. Come to think of it, can the brain be exercised?

Oh, yes, and we finished in time to watch Bill O’Reilly. He’s a controversial but engaging figure, and often criticized because he is sometimes too sharp with his guests. Here’s how I have him figured: He was raised and educated in a Catholic environment and this has given him a definite moral framework for life. That is, he believes there are such things as right and wrong. This I like. He is of Celtic stock (Irish) and I assume this explains his fiery temperament and quick wit. He has a disciplined mind and this makes him a formidable debater. And because he believes strongly that there is such a thing as truth he dares to call his hour “the no spin zone.” Reaching for truth sometimes leads to strong clashes. My impression is that he makes an effort to be fair when discussing public personalities that others sometimes love or hate too passionately.

All in all, yesterday, like all days, whizzed by. It went fast but seemed to have something worthwhile to occupy every hour. Our pace has slowed from the pace of former days. It is not swift as it once was, but we try to occupy our time well. We both desire to be meaningfully employed to the glory of God.

When we retired at 10 P.M. we had a deep satisfaction that our day had been spent well. We closed by giving thanks to God for the gift of another day.

Do you agree that every day is a gift from him?

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