21 May 2008

The Kennedys and faith

The world at our fingertips can be too much when added to each day's demands. Then comes a reminder of what is actually important. Ezra Klein posted this yesterday. I post it here - selfishly, in hopes that I'll remember to return to it when I'm in the midst of giving up. It's Ted Kennedy's eulogy for his brother Robert F. Kennedy, 8 June 1968 at St. Patrick Cathedral. An excerpt:

"Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."

This is the way he lived. My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world."

The pope chooses saints depending on what he believes are life stories he'd like his flock to emulate. Saints aren't perfect, nor do they necessarily perform miracles in their own lifetimes. Their purpose is inspiration.

For myself and so many others, the Kennedys embody the nobility of spirit and purpose that inspires hope for tomorrow - and thus encourages action, faith and good will today - and forgiveness for yesterday. Judging by the world's response to the news of Ted Kennedy's tumor, most of us have paused during the past day to give thanks for the gift of public service and centered purpose that Ted Kennedy has given. He is truly a lion of a man, a patriarch in the very best sense of the word. He is a father of fathers, to his brothers' children, and a father figure to countless more.

May his remaining years be blessed.

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