When former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas retired from the bench, he wrote the following lines to his fellow Jurists, expressing his sadness at having to leave the court:
I am reminded of many canoe trips that I have taken in my lifetime. Those who start down a watercourse may be strangers at the beginning, but almost invariable are close friends at the end.
There were strong head winds to overcome, and rainy as well as sun-drenched days to travel. The portages were long and many, and some were very strenuous. But there was always a pleasant camp in a stand of white-bark birch, and there were water concerts at night to the music of the loons.
Inevitably there came the last campfire, the last breakfast cooked over last night's fire, and the parting was always sad. Yet, in fact, there was no parting, because each memory of the choice parts of the journey -- and of the whole -- was of a harmonious united effort, of fulfilling and beautiful hours as well as dull and dreary ones.
The greatest such journey I've made has been with you, my brethren, who were strangers at the start, but warm and fast friends at the end.
I’ve had three years with you at Pinnacle, and they have been wonderful. There are so many thank you’s to offer that I don’t know where to start. But here are a few: “Thank you, Wes, and the Session for offering me the position. Thank you, SAGE and Men’s Breakfast, and for all of you whose friendship I treasure. Thank you for being such great listeners to my sermons and welcoming me into your hospital room at the time of illness and into your home at the time of death. Thank you especially for the way you cared for me at the time of my mother’s illness and death. I will never forget that and will never forget you.