Our local high school principal, Joe Lucenti, has just retired this summer after a very long career in education.
He also happens to have worked very closely with Thomas’s father, my father-in-law, back in the beginning of their educational careers and has been a good friend of the family ever since.
The high school faculty reached out and asked if I would make the cake for his retirement party, and I happily agreed as our family is sad to see him go and I was honored to be able to contribute a little something to help celebrate him and send him off to his next stage of life.
So this tiger (the school mascot) design with an edible pennant including one of Joe’s favorite sayings, “Akron- Western New York’s best kept secret!” was decided upon, created, and delivered to the party with a big hug and many well wishes for what comes next.
And now I’m sitting here…thinking. (Scary, I know.)
Life is a bit of a crazy ride.
There are so many different stages we go through, but we still somehow tend to feel like the stage we’re currently in is the stage we’ll always be in, even though we know that’s not the case.
Still, it’s hard to see or imagine past it, so we can easily just not even try.
Which makes sense…and is ok for the most part I think.
‘Cause most of the time we can gradually ease our minds into thinking about the next stage when it gets closer to coming upon us and we can then welcome it with open arms and a sense of joy.
But what I’m thinking about right now are the times when a new stage hits us from behind, square in the back of the head. Something that we didn’t account for and just never saw coming.
It is, in fact, happening to my little family over here right now.
I’m not going to mention what it is that’s taken us by surprise and is staring us straight in the face, demanding to be dealt with whether we like it or not. (Not nice of me, I know, but it’s just not time to talk openly about it quite yet.)
I don’t want to worry you… it’s not horrible or tragic. No one is physically hurt or sick or anything like that, and actually we’re in a good place with it now.
But we weren’t just a few short weeks ago.
It came out of nowhere and swept us up into a crazy cyclone that is indeed still spinning our heads around. I personally went through all of the stages of emotions with this one. It started with shock and moved quickly to sadness… then morphed into anger, followed by resignation.
And now, quite miraculously, it’s slowly changing into acceptance and even a bit of excitement.
I know this is all very cryptic, but I bring it up because, like I mentioned, it’s got me thinking about life and how things change…when you expect them to and even when you don’t.
And I’m becoming quite certain that both scenarios were always part of the design.
I definitely don’t always like it. I’m much more the sort who likes to sit in my box of comfortable, expected contentment, knowing how things “are” so I can keep a nice tight rein on them. But quite frankly, that’s… dumb.
And not good enough. And actually NOT how I would choose it when I can get my brain to really stop and think about that setup. ‘Cause in those moments, I can clearly see that’s not what’s going to bring me the most joy in this life.
We think we know what will make us happiest…but I’m starting to suspect that we don’t really have a clue.
C.S.Lewis said in The Weight Of Glory, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
And I’ll not soon forget the moment (I was in the shower actually… not that you wanted to know that ;)) when God helped me clearly see how this next, unexpected and uninvited stage may just turn out to be a new, grand adventure…
as long as I’m open to leaving off the mud pies and willing to dip my toes into the ocean, that is.
I’m still nervous. But I’m peeling off my socks, painting my toes, and I may even dive right in.
‘Cause we’ve got this one life. One. And if we don’t roll with it to see what’s hiding around the next corner, well… we may just be covered in mud for the rest of it. And then it’s over.
It’s taken me a minute to get there, but the ocean is sounding pretty darn exciting right now. Xx
And I’m definitely wishing Joe a long, extended, ocean holiday for all of his years ahead. Happy retirement, my friend.
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