By The Ven. Valerie Hoare:

My husband Doug and I started putting intentional plans in place for our retirement at least five years before the actual predicted date, but it became ‘real’ on my 69th birthday in July last year.

One of our children gave me a personalised ‘Countdown to Retirement’ fridge magnet with dates to mark off. Initially I couldn’t be bothered marking off each day, instead opting to cross out a month at a time. Come the New Year in 2019, and I progressed to crossing out a week at a time and finally when July came around again, I crossed out each day as it dawned. Retirement with all the life changes that entailed became real.

Mind you, I didn’t make this calendar public to my parish at the time, although I did let parishioners know I was retiring on my 70th birthday, which providentially fell on a Sunday.

But, back a few steps in my story.

Doug had already retired so we were quite familiar with superannuation and seeking the advice of a financial advisor. I know I took every opportunity to contribute whatever extra money I could to my superannuation fund, gratefully accepting the Government’s co-contribution scheme offer.

Back then, the biggest personal question we grappled with was, “Where will we live?” And, the associated, “What sort of accommodation do we want?” We asked ourselves whether we wanted a tree change or a sea change and whether we wanted to live in a city or a region? The great persuader was that our children, along with our 10 grandchildren, providentially lived within a five kilometre radius. We delight in them all, so we talked to them about our thoughts of retiring to the same area they lived in, received their support and started looking for a place to live nearby.

We’d already decided that the retirement village scenario was not our scene and that we’d like a house and garden.

I don’t know if Doug or I were more surprised when our son contacted us within a fortnight: “I’m sending you a photo of a house that just might suit you,” he said. His message led to an open house – it had possibilities, as it was within easy walking distance of public transport, shops and medical centres. Within the month we were the proud owners of both a house (then leased) and a mortgage, and I still had five years of planned work before retirement.

For the next four years our new house was basically a ‘rent and forget’ scenario, but with a year to go before my retirement, we got serious about giving the tenants notice and organising to make a few alterations to the house ahead of our moving in.

The other big question retirement raised in me was the inevitable, “Now what?” What was I going to do in retirement? No one quite believed my customary answer: “Lie on the couch, watch daytime TV and eat chocolates when we’re not travelling to go on walking holidays.” Frankly I didn’t know. As it turned out, for the first six months I was kept quite busy caring for Doug who developed shingles (get vaccinated – it’s a horrible disease).

Then along came COVID-19, and those of us in the vulnerable demographics know the realities of needing to stay close to home. Maybe this is what I’m meant to be doing – loving my house, garden and family and boiling up and bottling marmalade and rosella jam.

Being in place.

“Don’t push,” it I thought. When the time is right the door will open, the path will appear.

And then came the phone call and an invitation – Diocesan Spiritual Advisor for Cursillo? “Of course,” I said, as I love the Cursillo movement – that long weekend short course in Christian living is so full of joy, love, laughter and inspiring witnesses (plus reflective silence and a few healing tears), with the Holy Spirit’s presence palpable.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of being invited to join a number of teams that have gathered to prepare for and lead the weekends and I’ve always come away on a spiritual high, inspired to share the love I have received with my family and my community. The movement has got so much going for it that I’m surprised more people aren’t lining up to attend.

I love the fact that Cursillo is a movement of the whole people of God – clergy and laity working in harmony together, growing in confidence as we pray and plan, sing and laugh, and share our realities, our dreams, our encounters with God and the way God is using us and our gifts to bring healing and life to our communities.

What’s not to love?

I’ve found retirement to be a new beginning where the same God who has called and guided me in the past is still calling, leading and guiding me to new horizons and adventures.

Do you want to know more about Cursillo? I’d love to talk to you, so please get in touch via email and we’ll let God do the rest.

Editor’s note: A number of forthcoming online events, hosted by PMC, will be held for clergy related to retirement, finances and superannuation. Online event page links will be added to the below dates. In the meantime, please save these dates. 

Wednesday 1 September 10 – 11.30 am: Superannuation
Wednesday 15 September  10 – 11.30 am: Thinking about your finances
Wednesday 22 September 10 – 11:30 am: Talking about clergy retirement

First published on the anglican focus news site on 29 June 2021.

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