Saying goodbye...

I have always hated good-byes: they usually make me cry - and that will be true for 2008, too. It has been a full and challenging year for me personally and for many of us collectively. I give thanks for the election of Barrack Obama, I grieve with so many about the unending downward spiral of violence in the Middle East, I wait anxiously for a way to end the war in Iraq and join the world in cutting back expenses during these uncertain economic times. The words of the Psalmist keep coming back:

Don't bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they'll shrivel like grass clippings
and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.
Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.

Open up before God, keep nothing back;
God will do whatever needs to be done:
God will validate your life in the clear light of day
and stamp you with approval at high noon.
Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before the Lord.
Don't bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

Bridle your anger, trash your wrath,
cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.
Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
God-investors will soon own the store.
Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
you'll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
relishing a huge bonanza....

Less is more and more is less.
One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
but the righteous are God-strong....

Wait passionately for God,
don't leave the path.
God will give you your place in the sun
while you watch the wicked lose it.

(Psalm 37 - The Message)

This waiting business is the key, isn't it? So damned hard... Last night as I was closing the day in prayer I found myself thinking about all the public and private figures who have passed from this life in 2008. It was humbling... and sad. I know it sounds trite and fluffy, but there are musicians, artists and other creative public people I will miss. I think of:

+ Tim Russert and Paul Newman
+ Delaney Bramlett who gave Clapton a place to do the rockin' blues after Cream
+ Sculptor Robert Graham, writers Harold Pinter and Dave Wasserman
+ Country guitar player Jerry Reid and folksinger Odetta
+ Clive Barnes and Miriam Makeba
+ Studs Terkel - the voice of real people
+ Levi Stubbs - the heart and soul ofthe Four Tops
+ Motown writer Norman Whitefield
+ Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio (a politician I knew back in the day)
+ LeRoi Moore of the Dave Matthews Band
+ Jazz/soul record producer at Atlantic Records Jerry Wexler
+ Issac Hayes
+ Alexandr Solzenhietzn
+ Jesse Helms
+ George Carlin and Bo Diddley
+ Harvey Corman and Sydney Pollack
+ Dick Martin (of Laugh-In)
+ Hamilton Jordan (from Jimmy Carter days)
+ Artist Robert Rauschenberg
+ Danny Federici (with Springsteen from the start)
+ Neill Aspinall (the 5th Beatle)
+ Arthur C. Clarke, Howard Metzenbaum
+ Jeff Healey and William F. Buckley
+ Marharishi Mahesh Yogi (turned the West on to TM)
+ Heath Ledger, Suzanne Pleshette and Bobby Fisher

Lots of people who have nourished me and challenged me - angered me and helped me get life into focus, too - all who have now said good-bye. I watched Heath Ledger last night in "The Dark Knight" and he was brilliant and sad and twisted all at the same time. I think of my colleague and friend, Vicki Forfa... like I said, good-byes have always been hard for me.

Waiting, too. Maybe Springsteen said it best in saying farewell to his old bud, Tim Russert. It is something I hold on to in times like these.


Black Pete said…
You'll miss Jesse Helms? You are Indeed a generous-spirited person!
RJ said…
You know, even Helms had a late in life conversion helping the One campaign and others with HIV/AIDS funding - especially in the very conservative evangelical world. I have truty hated most of his work in the public realm, but Bono showed how no one is beyond God's power. Happy New Year brother.
Black Pete said…
You're right: it's just hard to see sometimes.

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