We left Kodiak twenty some days ago. They all run together now. I don't know what day or date it is. I know only what I have to do. For thirteen days it was to get up early at the hotel we stayed at the night before when we rolled into bed after a late night meal after driving all day and get up and do it all over again. That was thirteen days and some 6500 plus miles, across endless landscapes in Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, and so on until we got to Florida. When we planned this trip we had all sorts of ideas about what would be cool to see. Actually, we discovered we did not want to drive one extra mile out of our way. Then when we arrived at our son and daughter in law's home in Florida we found out there were some problems with the house we were going to rent. The renters did not want to leave and when they did leave they did not leave the home very clean. So we have been cleaning. We get up and clean all day and after a late meal we fall into bed which is on a mattress in our granddaughter's room which she graciously gave up for our use. She is sleeping on the floor in her parent's room. I have not read one book for almost a month. I have read the same few pages of the same book over every night before I fall asleep sometimes with glasses on and book open on my chest. I have not seen one tv show or movie. My reading has been articles such as how to get cat pee out of carpets, concrete, and such. I have become an expert on this. Got cat pee, call me. We have spent a small fortune on cleaning products. I had no idea there were so many choices for scrubbing toilet bowls. Now that we live near a Walmart Super Center there are aisles of cleaning products to be experimented with.
This is not the retirement we had envisioned. Strangely, it has been good though. Neither my wife or I have been so physically drained in a long time. We work mostly with our minds, teaching and pastoring. Now our work is all physical. It is refreshing in a hard to understand way. It feels good to be so tired you can't move and you are asleep in seconds and you sleep soundly all night. It feels good to clean up messes, too. As a pastor, I knew the messes we get into in our lives do not clean up easily or nicely. Relationships are messy and work with people is never done. Cat pee is not easy but at least you have a plan, a solution, and you can see (and smell) progress being made. Life is not so easy! I didn't have such a sense of accomplishment in ministry. There was no way to measure whether the sermon did what I wanted it to do or not. I just got up the next Sunday and did it all over again without knowing whether it was really doing any good or not. Who could say? I just trusted in God's word.
This cleaning has been personal, as well. I was angry at the people who left this home the way they did. I was unforgiving. Why did I have to clean up after them? It was not my job. It was not the way I wanted to spend my first days of retirement in Florida. Commenting on Jesus' clearing the moneychangers out of the Temple, Eugene Peterson said that most churches could use a good cleaning. Little did I know I needed a good cleaning - a good house to clean and a good spiritual cleaning. Why shouldn't I clean up someone elses mess? Isn't that what Christ does for us?