For fifty-two years I’ve been gainfully employed, thirty-six of them as a parish pastor. Now it’s time to stop pushing my particular barn and muck out its stables. On July 1, I will officially retire and start giving better attention to cultivating these few cubic feet of flesh.
The years have held their common mix of bane and blessing, and they’ve all conspired in ways I can’t begin to understand to bring me to this place in life, the balance tipping decidedly toward the good, with the promise of still better ahead.
Certainly in this passage I’m aware of loss, of mistakes made (some of them grievous) and opportunities missed (some of them undoubtedly glorious). I also have a growing sense that nothing has been wasted. Everything has contributed to amending the soil in which I’ve grown, and all of it has worked to prepare me for what comes next.
Though I cringe at some of what my life has held, I’m grateful for all of it, and I trust that each rough spot has been as essential a part of the whole as the smooth and level places have been, though I may never be able to say how.
So I turn with open arms to what is still to come, offering praise already for all of it, the good, the hard, the chiseling my soul must still undergo as it takes its final shape, even the questions that Jeanne Lohmann, in her poem “Praise What Comes,” suggests will await me at the end: “did I love, finish my task in the world? Learn at least one of the many names of God? . . . did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?”
So I praise what comes in the journey that goes ever on.