by Gary D. Smith
I like to read. I also like to break things down methodically and categorically. Therefore, using the “book of life” as metaphor helps me share my story. Chapter by chapter, stage by stage, paragraph by paragraph, event by event, sentence by sentence, year by year, word by word, day by day, letter by letter, moment by moment—that’s my story.
I am completing the chapters of my full-time work life and I am ready to turn the page to the next chapter with the awesome title of Retirement. Yes, believe it or not, I am officially retiring December 31, 2018. I will have completed 45 years of music ministry, having worked in four churches while collaborating with 10 ministers.
The beauty of a book is that I can look back to the previous chapters of my story and remember the stages, review the life lessons, rejoice in some and regret others. Aw, yes, and release outcomes and turn to the next chapter in order to take the next step.
The next step, you inquire? Right now it consists of the theme of the unknown. This stage is defined best as “transition.” The breakdown consists of an ending, a void and new beginnings. I do have some ideas (I’m not ready to disclose those yet but will certainly keep music as an active part of my retirement).
As I reflect on my book, I am so grateful for each letter, word, paragraph and chapter that has been written. Gratitude has been the consistent theme of my life story. I am so grateful for the love of my life, Randy Kilgore, with whom I have shared 38 years (We have been married four years and engaged 34 years—some things take time!).
I am also grateful for the present chapter I am writing in serving as the Fine Arts Director and Facility Administrator at Unity of Columbia. It was in this spiritual home that I came to a clearer perception of the difference between “religious life” and “spiritual living.” Thank you, God, and thank you new-life principles and people for this deep immersion into connection to the God within me.
The next chapter for my family at Unity includes the hiring of a part-time administrator and music director. This chapter will provide amazing opportunities for growth and new experiences. My prayer is for my spiritual family to enjoy every paragraph in this next chapter.
I am ready to turn the page (but don’t worry, I will be available a bit in early January 2019 to assist the new leaders AND take down the Christmas decorations!). At the beginning of this next chapter I am going to take time away from Unity (not forever) to allow the new leaders time to find their own niche, get to know their new family and be able to write the next chapter of their own books.
I also want to take time with my spouse to discover other spiritual options that I never had time to explore while being a full-time music minister. In time, my desire is to return as a participant to Unity and give where I can give and receive where I can receive.
Thank you, my spiritual family, for this 20-year chapter in my story. The journey has been incredible and I cannot wait to turn the page and write the next chapter in my favorite book.