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Rendering Unto Caesar His Due

To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Last week, it was my wife’s time to retire. She had been in her job for more than three decades.

Now that we’re both retired, one of the first things we did was to plan how to husband our fixed retirement incomes. There’d surely be some adjustments.

“What’s for breakfast?” I asked Delia the morning after her retirement.

“I thought you were going to make breakfast,” she said.

One of the pleasures I had looked forward to when my wife retired was she would be doing all the cooking from now on. No more cooking breakfast for me.

That was last Monday. It’s now Friday and I am still cooking breakfast every day.

When Delia was working, her daily routine was to watch TV until 9 pm because of work the next day. My daily routine was to sleep before 10 pm. Now that she’s retired, she watches TV until the wee hours. It is I who have to adjust my sleeping routine.

Seriously, though, I thought there has to be a deeper purpose for retirement. People who retire do different things. They travel, start a business, get a hobby, move closer to siblings, take a part time job, babysit the grand-kids, and a host of other things to keep them busy.

My friend Jerry who is retiring next month is planning the six-month stay in the Philippines and six-month stay in NY bit. A former work colleague Alejandro who retired last year has decided to move permanently to the Philippines.

On the other hand, my former neighbor Nick who took an early retirement at 62, went back to work after a year because his wife kept asking him to do all the work at home.

Not all get back to work for similar reasons, however. In 1971, Frank Sinatra retired from showbiz and sang “My Way.” But retirement bored him to death, so two years later Ol’ Blue Eyes “retired from retirement” and this time sang “Let Me Try Again.” Bob Hope in later years retired from live stage performances to enjoy life in his luxury yacht, but went back to work because “fish don’t applaud.”

Others see retirement as a time to pay it forward. My brother Oggie has recently retired. Because of his vast experience in working at a large foundation, he’s using his knowledge in finding ways on how to help our less privileged Filipinos back home.

At any rate, the past week gave me a preview of what retirement with my wife would look like. Some plans may go awry. For one thing, we canceled all travel plans. We had long planned an overseas trip but decided to cancel due to the coronavirus issue.

“Why don’t you join me in my daily walking routine?” I suggest to her.

When she told me she wanted to do it in the mall, I hastily persuade her to give up the idea, knowing how that great idea would affect our budget.

It’s been only a week since my wife retired. I know that there will be more adjustments to come. On the whole, nothing much would change. We’d still shop in the same discount store, eat out in the same favorite restos.

But some important things my wife taught me what my seven years of retirement took me to learn:

My wife taught me that retirement is a time of withdrawal from a material world that had continually demanded our attention. She taught me that there is a time to attend to the things of the world and a time to put them aside. In other words, when the time comes not to render unto Caesar his due, let us not pay him. Material existence has had sufficient dominion over us already. “The world is too much with us,” wrote the poet Wordsworth, “late and soon,/ Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” Retirement is asserting our independence from the world.

Only a week from retirement, my wife has already shown me what my seven years of retirement did not: that we have already rendered unto Caesar his due.

Retirement is the time to render unto God the things that are God’s.

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