Grateful – in a way that this little word can’t contain. (You know those languages that have many words to describe love or snow or forest?)
I am grateful –
Like the feeling that your head is going to explode – in a good way –
With the most beautiful fireworks you’ve ever experienced.
Or that your heart is so full that it can’t contain it all –
and so it overflows with warmth and love,
flowing through your body all the way to the tips of your fingers and toes.
I am grateful – Like standing on a beach watching an entire sunset. Not just until the sun goes down below the horizon, but watching colors change in the sea and the sky — all the way into the beautiful night.
Grateful — Like hiking above tree line on a sunny June day next to alpine meadows and cold, rushing streams. (Not all the elation is from lack of oxygen.) It’s the exhilaration of being alive and walking on an earth that is more mysterious and beautiful than we can imagine.
Grateful — Like the feeling of being scrubbed clean by an Oklahoma wind.
Like warming up after a walk in fresh, unblemished snow on a snow day.
Like eating the first tomato from the garden, holding a new puppy, or finding a hummingbird nest.
I am grateful –
Like the feeling of oneness that you have when you find the Holy One sitting right there with you and your weeping friend.
Like the moment in the worship service when you stop worrying about whether the piano needs tuning and you notice the Spirit sweeping through the congregation – through you.
As I step through this threshold into retirement,
I am grateful –
For all the experiences.
For the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work beside.
For the chance to impact the lives of people, and be changed by them as well.
Grateful, even, for the mistakes and the missed opportunities, for they are part of the fabric of my being.
I’m so, very, very, very grateful.
(In the fullness and expansiveness of this tiny, inadequate, yet perfect, word.)
Reposted from UpperRoom.org. The Upper Room will honor the retirement of Rev. Beth A. Richardson on November 30, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. CST with an online celebration. After serving 36 years with The Upper Room, most recently as Dean of the Chapel and Director of Prayer and Worship Life, Beth will retire on December 31, 2022.
An Oklahoma native, Beth is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and a member of the Mountain Sky Conference. She has worked at The Upper Room in many roles over the years, including editor of both Alive Now magazine and Weavings Journal and director of The Upper Room’s website, and has also served as Worship Leader for several Academy for Spiritual Formation retreats. Also a bestselling author, Beth’s books include Walking in the Wilderness, The Uncluttered Heart, Child of the Light, and Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me, which can be found at Upper Room Books. You can follow her writings at betharichardson.com and jackthescottie.com.
The celebration is an online gathering open to all via registration. This time of worship, celebration, and blessing will be hosted by Rev. Dr. Amy E. Steele, Dean of The Upper Room Chapel. The celebration will also include Rev. Jeff Campbell, General Secretary and CEO of Discipleship Ministries, staff, friends, faculty, and board members of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. Bishop Karen Oliveto, Western Conference, Mountain Sky Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church, and Dr. Don E. Saliers, emeritus faculty and Theologian-in-Residence, Candler School of Theology are included among the many guests who will lead us.
As part of the celebration, there will be an opportunity to give to the Chapel in honor of Beth, and participants will be invited to offer words of gratitude for Beth and her ministry.
To register for the online celebration, click here.
As I walked the dogs on the first morning of fall, I felt a cool breeze on my cheek. When I looked up, I saw the first autumn leaves swirling in the air.
This year as I clean up the squash vines and pick the last tomatoes, I’m so aware of the change of seasons in my life.
For 35 years, my focus has been The Upper Room at 1908 Grand Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee. This ministry and the people who embody it have been an important part of my formation, shaping me into the person I have become. And I am so very grateful.
On the afternoon of November 30th, we will celebrate my retirement from The Upper Room with a service and reception. [I’ll let you know soon how you can join me online for the celebration.]
I am beginning to wonder, Who will I be when I am no longer a staff person of The Upper Room? What will it be like to wake up on a Monday morning and not go to work? How will I adjust to this new schedule (or lack of schedule)?
I am in the fall of life. Like the plants and trees here in Tennessee, some facets of my life are fading and dying, creating space for the new things that the Holy One will be doing in me. I trust that I’ll find the way gracefully, as so many of you have already done.
I ask your prayers for this transition – both for me and for the staff of The Upper Room. And I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips on entering into the season of retirement.
“For everything there is a season.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1, NRSV
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be retiring from The Upper Room at the end of 2022. I plan to stay here in Nashville and learn what retirement looks like for me.
I’ll be welcoming the Rev. Dr. Amy E. Steele who will begin work at The Upper Room as Dean of The Upper Room Chapel and Executive Director of Program Ministries. (I will be serving in an emeritus role with the Chapel.) I hope to dedicate this coming year to documenting content from our out-of-print magazines: Alive Now, Pockets, Weavings, and devozine.
I’m looking forward to time for creativity, worship-leading with The Academy for Spiritual Formation, and just hanging out.
I covet your prayers as I discern how to “finish well” and as I cross this threshold into the next part of my journey.
Artwork by Beth A. Richardson: “The Rabbit,” SoulCollage from 6/21/21.