One Wrong Turn

How Is Retirement?

 A friend said that the first weeks of retirement feel like being on vacation. I’d say it’s more like serving on a mission work team! Having not moved in more than two decades, I had forgotten how much work it takes to get settled into a new home, particularly when you’re downsizing as we are.

That said, it’s been a wonderful time of transition into a new way of life. Sitting on the porch, watching the sunrise over Eagle Lake gives a whole new meaning to Sunday morning!

Add the deep assurance of having left Hyde Park in very good hands and our genuine excitement about its future, and all we can say is that we are very grateful people.

The Past is Always Present

Yesterday marked 100 years since the day a Serbian nationalist named Princip fired the shot that killed Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, and started the nations of Europe down the absurd (the kings and emperors were all cousins) and inexorable path that led to “The Great War.”

In the spirit of the centennial, here are a few recommendations for your summer reading list.

The Guns of August” by Barbara W. Tuchman

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918” by Adam Hochschild

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce” by Stanley Weintraub

If World War I seems like ancient history that is only interesting to fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s possible that you haven’t been paying attention to the news. Among its other effects, World War I laid the foundation for the conflict in the Middle East today.

After the war, the British and French drew the arbitrary lines that created what we know as Iraq and Syria with little or no attention to the ethnic and religious history of the region. One of the many tragic results of the U.S. invasion of Iraq is that it broke open the dam that was holding back 100 years of ethnic conflict.

Here’s a ine from “The New York Times” that caught my attention:

“A wrong turn by the archduke’s driver and the lack of a reverse gear forced security men to push the car out of the narrow street, presenting Princip his victims at close range.” (

Details that Make a Difference

Those odd details got me thinking about the ways “a wrong turn” and an inability or unwillingness to reverse direction is all it takes to lead us into places we never expected to go bringing consequences we never anticipated.

The gospel alternative to the human arrogance that prevents us from changing direction is “repentance.” The Greek word means “a change of direction.” It’s the humility to acknowledge when we have turned in a wrong direction and the grace to turn into a new one.

Would a reverse gear in the archduke’s car have saved the world from the ghastly history of war in the 20th Century and the Middle Eastern conflicts of the 21st? We’ll never know. But on a personal level, it’s at least worth trying.

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4 thoughts on “One Wrong Turn

  1. Thank you Jim for your posts. Having moved many times and downsized at least once so far, I sympathize. Enjoy Eagle Lake and surrounding area. I recommend hikes at the Circle B Bar Nature area on Winter Lake Road.

  2. How delightful to continue to receive your interesting messages. Thank you. Moving and downsizing are trials of retiring but isn’t retirement nice? Continued sunrises and blessings….Libby

  3. Wrong turns. The tug-of-war with pride and reversing direction. Repentance and grace. You’ve put your finger on a familiar pattern in my life and no doubt in everyone else’s as well. Thanks for continuing to remind us of the power of the Gospel!

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