No alarm clock. No meetings. No traffic jams. No deadlines. It’s called retirement!

For years we say, “Well, when I retire I’m going to… ,” and we list all the wonderful things we will be able to do.

One women’s list included reading a book whenever she wanted to, spending hours of bliss at the sewing machine, getting dirty in the garden and not caring, going to a movie in the middle of the week and feeling like she was playing hooky, visiting family and friends on a Tuesday instead of a Saturday, finally getting years of photographs in order, shopping in little unique stores, taking car trips and napping in the sun.

Well, she has done that! And she has only been retired three months. The big question of the day now is, “What’s on your agenda today?” “Oh, bird watching, water the lawn…”

The jump from the full-time rush of a more-than-packed work week to basically nothing is a very big leap indeed. At first it’s fun to just roll over in bed and snicker about the folks who have to go to work.

The problem is that you roll over, but you don’t go back to sleep — your body is telling you to get up, get with it! You crave that morning cup of coffee, you feel the pull to get out the door, and you remember that you were needed.

Many ELCA members of retirement age are not ready to sit in a rocking chair or wile away the hours watching the trucks load and unload at the gravel yard, nor are they ready for people to constantly “do” for them.

It’s nice to be entertained and have fun things to do, but it’s also nice to be needed and to feel that you are a valuable contributor to the work of the church.

The wisdom and skills acquired through life don’t just dump out of a healthy person’s mind when they retire.

ELCA congregations and institutions are reaping the benefits of using skilled people, who now have the time and the willingness to share their knowledge, on a volunteer basis.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale, Pa., has volunteer receptionists — folks who did similar work before their retirement and are happy to slip back into the role.

This same congregation also has a volunteer home visitation program with the purpose of helping folks with tasks around the house. A retired carpenter or plumber can help someone, and they get to use their skills. A retired gardener can offer guidance in planting a garden, and a grandma can calm an anxious new mommy.

Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Emmaus, Pa., has developed a program for retired folks that not only helps to keep them busy, but stimulates and educates.

There is something going on almost every day including activities like the Investment Club, movies, concerts, a day of connecting with other retired folks, educational day tours, dinners out together and lectures of interest on current world events.

The ELCA Board of Pensions has a wealth of knowledge and resources to offer about retirement and wellness issues.

Get in touch with full-time retirement planning managers by visiting the board’s website. They can share resources with you and help you develop programs that will benefit retirees and give them an opportunity to be useful.

The Association of Lutheran Older Adults is an organization that was formed in the early 1990s by a group of ELCA and The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod church leaders to help prepare the church for the “age wave.”

The association sponsors elderhostels, seniorfests, cruises and tours for older Lutherans who enjoy the opportunities to do things together while maintaining their mental alertness.

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