Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013.12.15 His Day Is Done

His Day is Done by Dr. Maya Angelou

His day is done.
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.  Our skies were leadened.

His day is done.
We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.  Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.

We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath.

Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant.

Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.

Would the man survive? Could the man survive?

His answer strengthened men and women around the world.

In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago’s Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City’s Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison’s doors.

His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.10

He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom.

When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela’s former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.

We saw him accept the world’s award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

Yes, Mandela’s day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.

He has offered us understanding.
We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say
thank you.

Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

We will not forget you, we will not dishonor you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all.


                                                                   * * * *
I've often compared the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy to the biblical David as Maya Angelou has compared Nelson Mandela to King David of Ancient Israel. Neither Kennedy and Mandela had smooth personal lives, yet both overrode their troubles to become political heroes and liberators of their times.

The biblical David was the youngest son of a large family, chosen by God for a role in moving the people of Israel from nomadic tribe to a settled monarchical state. David put Israel on the map and is still a revered hero representing the heroism of his people. King David is even considered a model for the kingship of Christ—inauspicious beginnings and troubles all along the way to the end, yet keeping faith in God's faith.

King David headed up one of the most dysfunctional families in biblical narrative, was a womanizer,  adulterer, coward, and murderer—and darn near got killed by his own son Absalom.  He was also merciful to his predecessor King Saul, wrote and chanted beautiful psalms, and died a very old man (in real time) tended by an “exceedingly beautiful” young virgin named Abishag, with whom he “did not have relations.” No senior sex for this king.



Of course all we have is the ancient story and no historical proof as we so would so love today, however the story stands, its own witness to amazing spiritual biography and transcendent wisdom.

Comparisons are odious but making connections can be healing, enlarging of soul. When a faith story or a poem pull back the zoom lens, light comes in, and enough light forestalls judgment. It becomes almost impossible to stay fixated on either the righteous side or the sinful side of a human being, or an issue when you see it all. Extremism loses its heft. Call it a God’s eye view.

We do not forget people who are authentic saint/sinners. They are just like us—dearly beloved fools.