Friday, January 30, 2009

Some of the Good don’t die so young!

The spiral galaxy in the constellation Camelopardais.

Some of the good live rich and old lives!
by Charlie Leck

The theme about the good dying young is so common and popular in poetry and musical verse. Yet, it’s not so true.

However, even when our heroes live rich and old lives we are still singing: “I just looked around and he’s gone.”

The last year has seen a number of the old gents I so admire depart these “surly bonds” and move beyond us to the stars. Some of the names are known to all of you and some only to me and a few of the friends who visit here and read these blogs.

I think, at first, that it will be so difficult to live in a world without them; yet, they left so much of themselves behind, to remind us of their creative genius, that we will not be totally without them.

These giants meant so much to me and my life…
Kurt Vonnegut
William F. Buckley, Jr.
Paul Newman
Studs Terkel
Andrew Wyeth
John Updike

How very special that they lived so fully – so completely – and so long. How glorious that they are now at rest after such daringly wonderful lives. There’s so much I admire about each of them, even though I was not always in agreement with them. As a matter of fact, I found myself often disagreeing with Buckley, but I admired his complex mind and his logical writing and the sharpness of his wit.

And, I disagreed with Updike’s theological thinking. By making the great stories of scripture so literal, he stole their power. Yet, no one could argue with the beauty of his resurrection poem.

Seven Stanzas at Easter
by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

What matter does it make? I prefer to think that the resurrection gives us the power to live freely and bravely, unbound by guilt and unafraid of evil. After life? Who knows?

Here again, I prefer to think that I shall move out among the stars, adding some lovely dust to them, in blissful peace and for everlasting rest.

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