Free agent

In this morning’s meditation, I paused at the self-designation as “retired.” That word sounds passive, suggests inertia, describes that I’m not-doing-what-I-used-to-do but, what?

I hit upon the idea of “free agent.” Yes, I’m free from the encumbrances and obligations that go with a career or job title. I no longer have to answer to a hierarchy of managers and follow policies. I no longer have responsibility in supervising staff and implementing policies. I am free to do what I am drawn to.

At this point, I am drawn to volunteering as in the computer lab at St. Joseph the Worker. In keeping with my life work as priest (a formal work I resigned from in 1995) I provide an ministry of presence. I listen, encourage, provide assistance and (occasionally) give unsolicited advice.

I’m also part of Dignity, not only as a member but I serve on the board of directors and I’m part of the liturgy committee. This is an opportunity to bring pastoral skills in liturgy and presidency to the fore. At times I experience a sense of frustration in ministering to a fragment of the Catholic community who are aging, cling to a liturgical life that is a bit ambitious for such a small group of renegades — sort of like an adult man’s suit on a child — but I persist in that it seems to flow from my natural talents and desire to be useful.

I have an AA home group. The 11st step meeting on Monday nights at 7:00pm provides a weekly formal experience in contemplation and community. My brief experience with a crazy AA sponsor (whom I retained for a few weeks) led me to the commitment of being part of that group. It feels like home.

I’m exploring involvement with the one*n*ten program that provides social and educational opportunities to LGBTQ youth in Phoenix. I engage in writing letters to elected officials when an issue is disturbing to me. I go to the gym, I interact with my large family (to a point) In short, I am free to do as I feel drawn to thanks to the pension, annuity, and social security payment that I’ve acquired in the time I worked actively for “the man.”  I own a house and car. I’m able (at this point) to care for myself at home. That’s pretty good for a man whose father despaired of ever handling things financially with some success.

And as an agent, I move myself around without corporate strictures. With my social work and pastoral background, I move among the various agencies and programs of life pausing to offer my help and drinking deeply of the world of youth, recovery, homelessness, job searchers — in other words, the experience of life as it’s lived on the margins.

It’s a good life, this life as a free agent. My ground comes from my daily prayer and meditation as well as the tradition of AA which calls us to service. As I told Chris yesterday on the phone, I am nourished and enriched by the service I provide for others, often in ways I’d never imagined.

My name is Dan, and I am a free agent.

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