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Going to the Woods, Going Home

by Tom Lewis

In retirement, Tom Lewis is "going home" to the woods.

 

 “…the spiritual life does not consist in mere individual betterment or… attention to one’s own soul, but in free and unconditional response to that Spirit’s pressure and call, whatever the cost may be.” (Evelyn Underhill in “The Spiritual Life”)
Our life as Christians is a response to the “pressure and call” – whatever that means. And so. my wife Sebring and I have been pilgrims on a journey – a journey that we have shared with many of you.
On November 30, 2010, I will retire from my position as Director of the Spirituality Program in Columbia Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning.
Many friends have said to me, “You can’t retire!” or “Where does the Bible mention retirement?” Or – and this is the best one – “What are you going to DO?” 
The same God who claimed me in the waters of baptism and who called me from the corporate world now calls again. What looks like an ending is very much a new beginning. God continues to call!
For 40 years, I have had a persistent dream: to live on a small farm in the mountains. For a long while, it seemed the dream was one of those God gives us that never comes about. But now it is happening.
I believe God gives us the desires of our hearts – not all of them, but the holy ones. And the older I get, the more I agree with John Muir that going to the woods is going home. That is my heart’s desire.
I leave Columbia Seminary knowing this has been the capstone of my ministry. I feel fulfilled and grateful for the privilege of doing this work in spiritual formation.
Somehow, I believe God will continue to use this experience, but I’m not making plans. I continue to pay attention to the “pressure and call.”