Life in Rio Vista: Lions and Coyotes

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As a ‘newbie’ in Rio Vista, California, I am now an official resident of the California Delta—located between Sacramento and San Francisco along the Sacramento River.  I am learning that residency requires large doses of sensitivity and tolerance toward those who live in this agricultural/ranching community.  It’s hard to imagine, but Trilogy, the 3000 resident golf course complex where we live, is like an Island in the middle of tens of thousand acres of some of some of the most fertile land in the country that provides billions of dollars to the economy of California.

In the Trilogy community, where Nancy and I have purchased a lovely home, there are heated conversations about the threat of fires, dust, farm-traffic, and noise that go hand-in-hand with living in Rio Vista.  For me, the biggest adjustment has been the heat.  In the month of June we’ve experienced many days in the mid-90’s reaching well in the 100’s.  We’ve had no rain…sun every day!  On the plus side, we also enjoy evenings with windows wide open with temps in the 50’s.    This is great sleeping weather.   The ‘Delta Breezes are a new reality for us – winds that seem to be blowing all the time.   In the negative column are all the threats of fire—a reality for all of us living in this delta community.

Of interest these past few days is the issue of guns and canons going off throughout the night as farmers combat the Coyotes coming down from the hills to feast on the sheep and cattle—I also understand horses are occasional victims of the Coyotes!  One farmer said he has lost as many as 15 sheep in one night!   The guns and canons are a common deterrent – and residents of the residential complex where we live have been complaining to the local authorities about the endless noise.  I have also heard that some of the canons  are set on timers to go off every few minutes as a deterrent.  Not sure if this is true, but I have also heard that Mountain Lions also come down out of the hills looking to feast on lamb or beef.  Lions have been spotted near highway 160.

What is required of me living in this new reality of the California Delta?  Two things come to mine:

First, sensitivity toward those who have lived and work the land around where we live for many, many years. There is a lot learn about the history and people of this beautiful delta land!

Second, tolerance is required of me an my neighbors when it comes to the inconveniences that go with living in this resort community in the Delta.

One question comes to mind that still has to be answered: Why did the developer of TRILOGY pick this particular place, Rio Visa, to plant a golf course and resort community?   All I know for sure:  I’m glad they did—this is a lovely place to live!

Needless to say there is a lot for me to learn as a neighbor and friend committed to living in this agriculturally rich Delta!

The Magical World of Retirement

Jack Stotts, former President of Austin Theological Seminary, said upon his retirement:

“My initial conclusion about retirement is that it is a magical world.  Now each month checks appear magically in our bank account, courtesy of wire transfers.  The economic threat has been tamed, at least for now.  In this magical time of retirement, the burden of “dressing up” for work every day is whisked away.  I can select my own uniform.  Now I can ask, “What do I want to do?” rather than, “What do I have to do for the seminary today?  The boundaries of my little world, small though it was, have collapsed.  The terrain has shifted.  I am free to erect different boundaries, to rearrange the landscape of my life.  And that is just the problem.  For in retirement I not only can but must reorder my life.  In that sense the magical world of retirement is also threatening.”

The question I continue to ask myself is how to reorder my life now that my wife and I have made the decision to move almost 3000 miles to California.   Within a new Presbytery in a location where there are few Presbyterian churches (Redwoods Presbytery), how will I live out my “Call” as a Teaching Elder / Minister of Word and Sacrament?

Three things I affirm with conviction in approaching this challenge of reordering my life as a pastor:

I will never stop serving God.

Jesus never retires.

The church, the living and vibrant body of Christ, doesn’t retire!

Returning to Jack Stotts for some insights in living in this world of retirement, this is an insightful article on retirement found at this link:

http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-2/Religion-Online.org%20Books/Stotts%2c%20Jack%20L-Aging%20Well-%20Theological%20Reflections%20on%20the%20Ca.pdf

Jack Stotts says,

 “Retirement is not a condition of our self-hood; it is a context for our selfhood.  We must adapt, even as we have adapted to new contexts when we have moved from one physical location to another.  The late Dr. Joseph Haroutunian, professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary and later at the University of Chicago, dropped this pearl in class one day:  ‘Our bodies precede our spirits and our spirits must catch up with our bodies,’  referring to those who move geographically from one place to another.  We find ourselves having to grow into a new culture as well as into a new house. Those of us who have moved many times can agree that it takes our emotions and our spirits longer to feel at home than it does n our bodies.”

Traveling over 3000 miles to a new home in California near where our daughter lives, my first task “called to ministry” will be to move and adjust to living in a new context and culture closer to members of our family.  I have also done some initial networking by emailing Presbytery officers where I will be living to establish some new contacts/relationships.  Nancy and I will be look for a new church home.  As this journey continues, I hope to keep up with pulling together some of my thoughts for this blog.  These are first steps, ‘baby steps’ as I travel into this magical world of retirement.