By Ric Hudgens, re-posted with permission from social media

Sometimes we choose transition. Sometimes it’s thrust upon us. Either way it’s disorienting. But, as the great Walter Brueggemann reminds us, disorientation is one stage on the way to re-orientation. I’m feeling that on-the-way-in-betweenness.

Divorce, a stroke, a resulting move to a new place, and then of course the pandemic left me a bit traumatized. It’s not dramatic (not like some), but it’s substantial. I find unfamiliar fears and anxiety showing up in unfamiliar places.

I’ve also known “post-traumatic growth” which was the subject and the fruit of a recently completed doctoral project. So I’m still “growing” and have much to be thankful for, and I’m also disoriented – like when I was a teenager and every year outgrew my clothes.

I need God/Spirit/Meaning in new ways. The old pathways bore me. Familiar methods leave me feeling confused, curious, cautious, and a bit cranky. I’m walking like someone with new shoes that are not yet broken in. I think my heels are blistering a bit.

All of this relates to my new understanding of retirement: (1) of course it means you don’t do what you used to do; and (2) you still get tired of the things that you were tired of before – which is why you retired. But (3) perhaps you are getting new tires to replace the ones whose thread has worn so thin. I am tired and re-tired.

The dance between what we choose, what is forced upon us, and how we are led is a mysterious one. Most new directions are a combination of all three. Everyone has motives, ambitions, desires. Listening is real but sometimes your body has to take a different posture so you can really hear.

So I’m grateful for change AND disorientation AND things that don’t fit me any more. It will all be ok, although it won’t be the same.

This poem was written six years ago today, when I was so depressed about my recent separation and so confused about my future.
I’m not depressed anymore. So there’s that.


This house will tell me when it’s time.
I return uncertain of many things
but certain of that. After everyone
departed I remained. It was still my home;
where I’ve slept after the best days
of my life. Every time my key turns
memories wait inside the door.
My dreams are grafted to these beams.

After the birthday party tonight I drove
them back in my new car to their
new homes dropping them off
one by one: wife, son, daughter, then
turning the final corner parked where
I park, walking up the walk I walk,
past the window where no one
waits anymore to watch for me.

Some day it will be time to leave.
I pray it will come like a whispered
assurance, a breeze blowing across
my new morning, waking my soul
on the other side of darkness, telling me
this is the day. The last petal on the blossom
of my cut flower will break off and gently fall.
I will see it and know it’s true.

–rdh 3-14-2017

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