Linden Wenger Climbing Down the Ladder

ISBN 13: 9781561480791

Climbing Down the Ladder

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From a teacher's and pastor's point-of-view, Linden M. Wenger shares his views on retirement. His folksy reflections and personal observations express his own thorough enjoyment of life as a retired person. - Rejoice! You may finally begin climbing down the ladder of success. - Growing older is normal. The only fountain of youth lives within ourselves-in the will and wisdom to renew our own spirits and to take care of our own bodies. - Make peace with death, make peace with God, make peace with the world, and make peace with yourself. - One of the first shocks of retirement hits when we find ourselves out of touch with our familiar world. - As children, my brother and I occasionally plunged into the cold, spring-fed stream on our father's farm. So we must prepare for "the plunge" into retirement. - A host of voluntary service projects await retirees. Hats off to volunteerism! - Coping with loneliness-it is my own feeling that personal faith in Jesus Christ is our greatest bulwark against any and all the forces that batter us in life. - Be sure to make a will and provide other necessary instructions for your final wishes. - Let us dispense with the cult of youth worship. Enjoyment of life does not fade with the bloom of youth

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About the Author:

Born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Linden M. Wenger (pictured on cover) grew up on a small farm where he acquired an abiding appreciation of the natural world. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite College with a degree in Bible and received his B.D. and Th.M. from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. He did advanced studies at Princeton and with New York University Land of the Bible Workshop in Israel.

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Preface There are two pivotal ideas which crop up in this book either quoted or implied: "Everybody wants to live a long time, but nobody wants to be old" and "Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be." "Everybody wants to live a long time, but nobody wants to be old" pinpoints the profound ambivalence about the stages of life everyone experiences sooner or later. Those who are wise cherish life. Those who are not wise squander it. By nature everyone clings to it. And almost without exception people use it for their own enjoyment, for building up a fortune, for achieving position and power and, hopefully, for making a contribution to their community. At the end of life's stages stands what for many is the specter of old age. In our western culture, there are so many myths and there is so much bad press about growing old that it is a small wonder people approach this prospect with fear and dread. It is my hope that this book will somehow shatter some of those myths and make retirement and aging something of a grand, new adventure. "Most people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be" is both a preachment and a promise. In our humanity we have little control over our external circumstances. Life is not always fair. The forces of nature are beyond our control. Bodily afflictions are written into our genes. All the rest of our fellow humans have their own free will which they may exercise to our help or our hurt. We must give place to the customs and dictates of the society in which we live or suffer the consequences. As Christians we believe we have been created in the image and likeness of God. We are the creatures of both time and eternity. We have the capacity of love and faith and the power of selective response to life's circumstances. It is not so much what happens to us as how we respond to what happens that determines the measure of our happiness and the quality of our person. That is what I want to say in this book. Specifically, in matters of growing older there is little to be gained by fighting the "system"-either the natural processes of aging and decline or the artificial conventions of society such as retirement. Of course, there is a time to stand against the inequities of our current social system, but it is futile to put off our own happiness until we have reformed society. If we do so, we will never be happy. It is my conviction that even within the constraints of physical life and the conventions of our social system, there is room for meaningful activity and a measure of happiness as long as we live. The title of the book, Climbing Down the Ladder, will suggest a paradox to many readers. From a spiritual viewpoint, from the stance of my personal relationship to Christ, life can and should be an ever more confident and glorious experience. There need be no decline caused by the passing of years. As Paul writes in the Scriptures, "Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16b). As some of my friends have told me, they do not intend to climb down the ladder. They intend to go right off the top into glory! So much for a fine and cheerful view of life. My aim in this book is to come to grips with the hard realities of our natural pilgrimage. While I am optimistic and cheerful, I cannot suggest that growing older does not have its pains, griefs, and trauma. The aging and decline of the body are inevitable. Positions, titles and powers are passed from generation to generation. In the world of business, work, and the professions, there is a time for retirement or "climbing down the ladder." Sure, it will hurt. Yet it is normal and natural, and for those who know how to fortify themselves, it is not the end of the road nor the end of happiness. Finally, this book is largely autobiographical. I wrote it in some measure for my own benefit and to monitor my own reaction to the passing stages of life. I sometimes think of it as my final witness and testimony. However, I am still alive, and I have no way of knowing what I may still face. But I do want this book to say that life can be good, interesting, useful, and rewarding. I also want to say that being a Christian can make it even better. 1. Climbing Down the Ladde Rejoice, O young man in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. - (Ecclesiastes 11:9a) The ladder always shakes more than the ground it stands on, and what's on the ladder shakes most of all. "I'll tell you, it's harder to climb down the ladder than it is to climb up." My friend, Moses Slabaugh, made the statement emphatically, and I knew just what he was saying. We were talking about retirement. I thought first of several physical examples of ladder-climbing. I remembered one of the employees in the metal shop where I worked as a young man. A good craftsman, he was sent out one day to do some work on the roof of a customer's house. He put up the ladder, went over the top to the peak of the roof and made the necessary repairs. Coming down was a lot more scary. Looking over the edge of the roof and trying to figure just how to get onto the ladder again, he lost his nerve. He made several more attempts, and each time he froze with fear. In the end, someone called the fire company to rescue him.

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