"Next stop, Melita Avenue."
For just short of twenty-one years, I've heard those words as the bus pulled up to Christie Gardens and I crossed Christie Street in Toronto to go to work. Usually, the bus came late and all of us who stood shivering in the bus stop, or roasting in the summer, complained to no avail. Usually, I lugged at least one bag, sometimes several as I crossed the busy street. Usually, I stood in the centre of the road, waiting for cars to pass because no one bothers to use the crosswalk up the street.
Yesterday, "usually" didn't happen. Yesterday I retired.
I turned 65 in May and in the summer faced the decision which had haunted me for at least a year. I loved my job and couldn't imagine life without it, but the commute to work took a toll on my body. The three hours each day involved a short car ride, then train, subway and bus. In this accessible age, I still struggled with hundreds of steps and my arthritis protested more with each passing day.
Even at work, although the physical aspects of the job remained minimal, when they occurred I struggled. The days we replaced all the residents'mattresses I wondered if I would survive. Do you have any idea how heavy and unwieldy a mattress is as you drag it down an interminable hallway, into an elevator and down another hallway out the door? Times 30?
As I pondered the decision, I realized my horror of two scenarios. At Christie Gardens, many staff stay for years. We have employees who continue to work after 35 years. No one wants to leave. However, over the years I have been a part of closed-door conversations where I heard the comment "she needs to retire." I didn't want that said of me. Secondly, I didn't want to put my fellow Advocates in a position where they needed to pick up the slack for me because the physical aspects of the job were too challenging. This dismaying situation loomed and I hated it.
I prayed over the summer months. Could I do this? Should I do this? God answered and I made the decision. It ripped my heart apart to contemplate leaving my Christie Gardens family, but I needed to trust Him for the next stop. Many times I asked Him about it. I like to plan, you know? It seemed like a reasonable question. Each time He said, "Trust." Not the answer I looked for but exactly the one I needed.
Peter wouldn't have experienced walking on water unless he'd obeyed Jesus' command to get out of the boat. He didn't know what came next and the directive must have seemed both crazy and terrifying. I get that. The only saving grace came from the fact that Jesus did the asking. I get that, too.
Here I stand. I look back with overwhelming thanks for all He taught me, for the experiences, the growth and the many wonderful friends. Then I look forward, grasping the hand of the One who helps me step out of the boat.
Now, together, we walk on the water.
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The Small Miracle of the Next Stop