Easing Along

Retirement Reward in Ordinary Time

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Retirement has many rewards.  Rewards can come in the form of pay for work done in the past. Rewards can be honors or privileges given for noteworthy accomplishments or service. Rewards can come from accepting a new challenge and receiving the satisfaction of seeing it through to a successful completion. The latter is the subject of this week’s post for Easin’ Along.

For me personally, the greatest reward to come from retirement so far has been the gift of time. The objective has been to use it productively. In addition to using some time to travel the East Coast, as well as take some classes at our university, I have two activities that I have found to be exceptionally rewarding now that I have the time to pursue them much more deeply.

One of those activities has been to become deeply involved in exercise and wellness activities at one of our local YMCA’s.  Once I joined the Y in January of this year as an “Active Older Adult” (see EA post), I have dedicated myself to becoming healthier and getting fit.  I have sincerely loved the programs for people of my age and can honestly say that my participation has changed my life for the better.

The other reward for me has been the opportunity for a deeper involvement in the activities of our church. We have a wonderful church; led by two (soon to be three) gifted ministers, a dedicated and talented staff, and some very committed leaders and volunteers within our congregation. I am blessed to have the opportunity to worship with them and join them in serving God.

Helen (adorable wife and flower lover), on the other hand, has a long record of participation and service with Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian, serving as an Elder, a member of the choir and on numerous other committees and small groups.  This past week she was asked to help arrange the flowers for the Sunday morning service. They didn’t have to ask twice.

Helen is retired and does find herself with a few spare moments occasionally, but nothing short of a national disaster would have deprived her of this opportunity…she LOVES flowers. She has helped in the past with preparing arrangements, and she has also gathered flowers from the church after services and delivered them to Random Acts of Flowers, a local organization which redistributes them to hospitals and assisted living centers, but has never actually been involved in helping to design and craft together the entire display.  She was looking forward to this so much, I thought it would be fun to tag along and share this activity with Easin’ Along readers.

Helen would be paired with Joyce, another member of the congregation who is a gifted artist with a lifelong exposure to flowers. Joyce’s father grew beautiful roses and was forever winning awards at flower shows throughout our region. Helen was very much looking forward to working with her.

Church wall hanging

Church wall hanging

In planning and designing the arrangement, Joyce had the foresight to call the church and inquire about the parament (or liturgical) colors for the coming Sunday service.  This is where I learned something. Liturgical colors indicate the current season of the church. On this particular Sunday the hangings or banners in the sanctuary were to be green indicating that we were in Ordinary time which runs, generally speaking, from May into November when the colors change to purple to mark the season of Advent.  The banners hanging in our church are predominately green with a touch of light yellow scattered throughout. The challenge was to match that banner. Game on…

Helen and Joyce met at the flower wholesaler on Friday to select the flowers to be used in the arrangement. Friday is a busy day in the wholesale flower business, and this place was humming. After speaking to the lady in charge, we were led into a large walk-in cooler filled with flowers. The weather outside was warm and humid.  Inside the cooler, the lens on my camera fogged up.  Joyce was smart enough to wear a jacket.

Helen and Pat, floral designer

Helen and Pat, floral designer

As mentioned, Friday is a big day and we met Pat, a neighbor of ours who is a professional floral designer.  Pat was arranging a number of decorations for a wedding the following day.  Pat’s considerable skills were on display and I couldn’t help taking a picture of her artistry.

Wedding arrangement

Wedding arrangement

Joyce and Helen began the process of picking out flowers using a leaf from an Aucuba plant as a color sample and guided by Joyce’s overall theme for an arrangement that was to be somewhat “monochromatic”…sounded good enough for me, I’m just here to take pictures.

Aucuba

Aucuba

Even though the choices in the cooler were enormous, it didn’t take very long to assemble enough flowers for the arrangement.  The selection included snapdragons, some chrysanthemums, and one plant that was never identified, but fit the color scheme perfectly. Joyce would use Aucuba from her garden as filler throughout the arrangement. The next task was to take everything to the church and let the flowers sit in water overnight.  It didn’t take me long to get out of that cold cooler.

Flower selection

Flower selection

The task of arranging everything began the next morning and went swiftly. Joyce and Helen worked well together, and the arrangement came together much quicker than I had anticipated. The finished product was beautiful, and matched the liturgical colors almost perfectly. The arrangement honored well God’s glory. I felt certain God would be pleased.

Arrangement in progress

Arrangement in progress

For me as a bystander, it was a delight being able to observe two ladies using the gifts the Lord had given them to do something they truly love. Retirement indeed has its rewards. This was an extraordinarily joyful experience…in Ordinary time

Helen and Joyce with finished arangement

Helen and Joyce with finished arangement

I’ll be Easin’ Along…Print

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