I’m not dying, I’m retiring (and looking for new work) because it’s time to move on. But I was struck by a story (in Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict):
An ancient people tells us that when the moment of a great teacher’s death was near, the disciples said, “What is it we will see when you are gone?” And the master said, “All I did was sit on the river bank handing out river water. After I am gone I trust you will notice the water.”
As a priest, it’s really tempting sometimes to get caught up in one’s own importance. We often think we are indispensable. But we are not.
To use the image in the story, what matters is the water — using Christian terminology, “the water of life,” which is Jesus.
If I have been faithful, I’ve handed out this water flowing freely past me to those who pass by thirsty — which is all of us.
But the water is there, and free, whether I am there or not.
I hope my congregation notices the water when I am gone.