Retirement anticipates sunrise of change for Cochrane pastor

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 3, 2017

Father Andrew Pyon, just-retired pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane, journeys into the sunset of one part of his life and the sunrise of the next.
Photos by Warren Harbeck

“Sunrise, sunset – swiftly flow the days,” the song from Fiddler on the Roof goes. It seems just yesterday when Andrew Pyon became pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Cochrane, but it was actually three years ago. After developing colon cancer soon after he arrived, however, he underwent a partial colectomy following which he never fully regained his energy and was granted early retirement, effective this week.

This will certainly be a time of change for Father Andrew. I’d like to offer him some wise words about change to accompany him as he sails into the sunset of one day and the sunrise of the next.

Change is inevitable and seldom easy, and how we handle it can make all the difference in our wellbeing. Our attitude toward change is about personal choice. As the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell once said: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

French writer Anatole France put it this way: “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”

But as Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

Yet fear of the unknown – of what we might become – can rob us of some of the greatest joys and adventures of our entire lives.

The classic examples of the butterfly and dragonfly come to mind. Would they really be happier spending their entire life crawling along the ground as a caterpillar or mucking around in the lakebed as a grub? Hardly! Their destiny is to fly in the freedom of the air, and in so doing bring delight to all the creation. As the saying goes, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

“Change is the law of life,” said former U.S. president John F. Kennedy, “and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

One of my favourite natural metaphors for moving from the past to the future is a seascape at sunset. For one day’s sunset is the promise of a new day’s sunrise, and life’s journey continues.

So, Father Andrew, as you come to the end of one day in your priestly vocation, may the anticipation of the next day’s sunrise pull you forward into a refreshing new embrace of the gift of life. And may the blessings of the Lord be upon you in your onward journey.


© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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