During my retreat week, I wrote this,
I am somewhat exhausted thinking about my career. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe by being emptied out in this way, I can dream of something that wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise.
And yet, ever since I came back from that week, I can't stop thinking about alternate futures. Maybe that's the dreaming to which I refer?
In the past week, I've been thinking more and more about transfers of power from one generation to the next. In some ways, I'm the generation who will soon be leaving. But at 50 years old, perhaps I'm the ascending generation.
Because I'm just back from various retreats, I'm thinking about the camp directors who may soon be leaving. One of my beloved Lutheridge directors has been open about the fact that she will not be retiring next year, but likely within 5 years. And one of the women that I met during my travels announced that she and her spouse are headed off to become directors of a different retreat center that she loves. She looked to be about my age, so maybe I'm not the departing generation yet.
I'm only just beginning to think about this. I used to assume that program directors would need to be ordained, but that's more rare than usual, someone told me once. I used to assume it was a job for the young, but it's the camp counselors who are young, not necessarily the ones in charge.
My spouse and I discuss on a regular, sometimes daily, basis how we might structure our lives so that we didn't need a full-time job. We know too many people who have been forced into this position, so my hope is that if we ponder the possibilities, we might not be caught as much by surprise.
We have a one bedroom/1 bath cottage at the back of our very small property. Right now, a friend lives there in exchange for paying her share of expenses. But what if we decided we wanted to make a profit? We've thought of renting it out to vacationers, but there's some part of me that recoils from strangers living on site.
We've thought of starting a small retreat center of some sort, or of having a variety of practices that could use the property (music teacher, art therapist/coach), bringing in both money and a tax deduction. At one point in the past month, my spouse said, "We could move into the cottage." We'd still have access to the big house, and we'd have more of a tax advantage.
I've also wondered if a retreat center, in the tradition of Lutheridge which requires over 150 acres, is going to become increasingly unviable as the century goes on. I've thought of my church, which has some space for retreat activities. I've thought of various friends who also have lovely spaces. What kind of retreat community might I create if I didn't think I needed to have a huge space? Would scattered spaces across 10 miles work? It would be a different kind of retreat experience, but it might work.
As with many of my discernment posts, I have no conclusions, just somewhat inchoate thoughts. But I want to record them--in the hopes that they continue to sprout up, in the hopes that they inspire (me, someone else, the universe . . .).