Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

February 9, 2003


I never dreamed I would have so much time on my hands!


            Nobody told me how much time I would have on my hands after retiring from the busy life of serving as a pastor. It is amazing how many things I have time to do now that I no longer punch a clock.

            Retired people know this. Younger people should want to know, to avoid the shock of this discovery upon retirement. So while my older friends smile knowingly, let me share with the young what I have learned.  

            Now I have time to notice when the moon is full. What a delight this is. All my life I had been too busy to care. I would only realize the moon was full late at night when I would hear the dogs barking at it.

            I am so relaxed now that I can anticipate what night the moon will become perfectly full, and actually mention the fact to my wife. The first time I did, she almost fainted. For 50 years she has been the one to say sweetly to me, “Darling, did you see the moon tonight; it is full and so beautiful.”

            When she has said that, I know she means for us to snuggle up together and kiss awhile. Full moons have something to do with love, I figure, though no one has ever told me why. She and I believe it, and enjoy it, so that is all that matters.

            Another light that I now have time for is the security light on a pole in our front yard. I have been paying $6.50 a month for that light for more than 40 years. In earlier years, it may have cost no more than $4.50. We had Central Alabama Electric Cooperative install it when we first built our cabin in 1960.

            I confess that I had paid scant attention to that light for years, but now it has appeared on my radar screen. As the evening shadows creep upon us, I watch for the light to come on. It lights up the night.

             For a few years, we have shared it with two neighbor families. I guess they are glad the light is there. They have never said. I have never asked. Some things you just do not discuss with your neighbors.

            I think about how few people in Alabama actually see the light come on. Nobody cares. Nobody else is watching. So I belong to a very select group. In fact, I may be the only person who witnesses a security light come on. When I think back, I can never remember anyone saying, “I saw the light turn on.” It feels good to be a person of distinction.

            Some nights we turn the TV off and simply watch the light. Believe me, we enjoy it more than those stupid sitcoms. I would rather watch a pole without a light than to waste my precious time watching dumber than dumb television.

            As we watch the security light, we think about the people in so many dark places of the world who have no such lights. We are fortunate people. Millions have no light in the yard so we are reminded of our many blessings as we hold hands, watching the shimmering light in our small space in the universe.

            Comfort we have in knowing that the light continues to shine until daylight, while we sleep. Our rest is more peaceful because of the vigilance of our faithful light.

            One morning I plan to rise early and watch the light go off. That I have never done. It will be great fun. I reckon that will put me in another category of honor. Think about it: how many people have ever watched a security light go out?

            In retirement, I have time also to look for deer tracks in the yard. As a pastor, I never had time to look for sign of the nocturnal deer. If you have never tried it, you will be amazed by the number of fresh tracks you can find. Deer like to prowl about and eat while we humans are sleeping.

            I want to learn how to guess, from the tracks, the size and number of the deer. Indians could  do it. Being a native Alabamian, I should be able to learn this skill. Then I will be the only person in my neighborhood with this information. I can see myself strutting about like a bantam rooster.

            I have more exciting discoveries to share, but I must stop now. It is about time to begin sipping our afternoon tea, and get prepared to watch the light again. Next week I may share how much fun it is to watch a fire in our fireplace. There are so many wonderful things to do – when you can find the time!