In From the Vine

By Lynne Keating


Recently, I retired. It was difficult. Yes, of course, money was, and remains, an issue. But it is more than that. Suddenly I was not dragging around someone else’s agenda or target dates or expectations. The change was so drastic that I felt as if I was stumbling forward, like one who has lost his footing after being suddenly cut loose from a heavy object he’d been pulling.

Now life was doing the pulling, not me, and I found myself following along like a child led by his mother, hand in hand, through a busy street. At first, I resisted, trying to free myself from the hand that moved me forward. It was frightening to be swept along like a swimmer in a rip tide. I made a strict schedule, planned out a work day; I wanted to remain useful, vital, productive. After all, AARP assures me every day that I am in control!

I came to realize my efforts, and even the assurance of others, only gave me the illusion of control; it was a false consolation at best. I was not in control. Nor had I ever been. For the first time in my life I was experiencing, body and soul, the truth that God has—and always has—been in control.

I professed to believe that but never really allowed myself to accept it. The yoke I had so willingly taken on for most of my life promised self-sufficiency and freedom, but never delivered. It slowed me down, weighed me down and, at times, would not let me move at all. Funny, I could not see it or feel it, until I let it go.

And now, letting go, the walk has become easier, faster, fascinating, wonderful!

Even so, every day, I have to make the conscious, intentional decision to let go of all my expectations, my plans, and my need to be seen as productive. Every day, I must awaken to an empty slate, waiting for the Teacher to write upon it.  It is only the passage of time, the blessing of aging, that allows one—no, insists one—to do this.

The experience is humbling and exhilarating.

Humbling because I know how often I have brushed blindly past those whose lives moved more slowly and less deliberately than mine. Humbling because now I not only see such souls, I am one, and because when I look at the future I know I will be able to do less, not more, as time goes by. I can no longer point to what I do, or what I drag around, in order to hide who I am.

But this is exhilarating! Every day is an adventure not for the faint of heart. Every moment is a challenge as the hand that leads me swerves in and out of life’s fast lane. Exhilarating because I can close my eyes and feel the wind rushing against my face, secure in the knowledge that my Father has me and that He will never let go. I can see now, because I have the time to see.  And I can pray for what I see, for those whose yoke is heavy, as mine once was, for leaders and doers, movers and shakers, and for those who do not know the love of God at all.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matthew 11:29)

It is the gentle yoke of humility—more like a glorious mantle—that Jesus places on our shoulders. The more I wrap myself in it, the more I am able to hope, to rest in the mercy of God, and to see through the illusions and false consolations of the world. And something else wonderful happens: I experience the unexpected harvest, the produce, of becoming fruitful, which is so much more productive than productivity! And this is what God is after.

Sundays are great days to begin the practice of letting go of the yoke of the world. Today, allow Jesus to place His yoke—His glorious mantle—over your shoulders and discover the fruitfulness of resting in God’s love!

About the Author:

lynne keatingAuthor and blogger Lynne Keating also lectors and teaches the Bible to CCD students at St. John the Beloved Parish in Wilmington, DE. Convinced that this is one of the most exciting and important times in salvation history, her writing encourages all people to recognize and rejoice in God’s self-offering love, revealed more and more through the actions of His people. Visit her at Fellowship of the Lamb.

Showing 3 comments
  • Grace Davila

    As I ponder retiring in the next couple of years, this is resonating within me. Who I am if not my job? I look forward to the future where I become free as a child again. Free to go to Mass during the day if I want, free to sit around and free to feel grateful for my life and family. I’m ready Lord to let go, I’m ready for you to catch me and place my gently on my new path!

  • Alice Fonda Henson Workman

    When we were in our 60’s, we sold our home of 35 yrs. in MT, and returned to the place where I had grown up to care for my mother. We would also be closer to my husband’s widowed mother, who lived at the other end of MS. We did not particularly wish to leave MT, but had experience a series of unfortunate events and finally decided that God was trying to tell us something. Both mothers were alone and could use some assistance. Both our brothers were much closer, one within 50 mi., the other a few hundred, but neither seemed inclined to assist.
    My husband came down in Jan. 02, while I reminded behind to put our home on the market and help care for our grandchild who was 3 at the time. It was a frustrating couple of years, but one of the perks is that I had my weekly RCIA class. Our leader was exceptional and I got to know most of the class members quite well. When the house finally sold and Mike was able to come and get me, he planned, with the help of my priest, a surprise renewal of our vows with my RCIA class. That was so special.

    God showed us in all sorts of ways that we had made the right choice. Shortly after Mike got settled in my mother’s home, she had a stroke. Had he not been there, she might have died or laid there for hours or more before someone found her. As soon as she healed from that (3 mo. in hospital), she jumped out of bed, against doctor’s orders and broke her ankle. Again, Mike was there to rescue and get her to treatment. Mother had several good years before her health declined again and finally died in May 2010.

    Then several months after I moved in, Katrina stuck and Mike’s mom was in the area that was affected. We were able to rescue her and help her find a new home in town here. Then later, helped her moved to a wonderful assisted living facility where she ended her days.

    Three years after my move, my son was offered a job in a not too far away city. He was divorced by then and raising his son alone. He asked if he took the job, could we help with Caleb until he got his Call Center operational. We could and did and will always consider that a special year. Our God is so wonderful with his surprises and blessings.

    I think a good bit about how all that worked out for us. My husband has been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and the outlook does not look good. But, I know that if I just lean on the Lord that he won’t let us down.

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