The great man is dead.
18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013
He lives forever.
This is greatness.
It’s taken me awhile to distil my thoughts about the impact this man has had on me and try to put into words something that is truly my own. I’m glad that the goodbye has been drawn out over 10 days because it’s given me time to think; time to hear what so many others had to say; the expected platitudes and the sincere expressions of gratitude for his life and the example he set.
He set the bar high by the way he lived. He is one of my heroes, forever in my pantheon of heroes with Christ, Gandhi and King. There are many more people who are great. Most the world never knows, but they are there. But these are the public ones that resonate most with my spirit and there is no question he belongs with them.
Greatness for me resides in the human whose spirit is lead by the principle of unconditional love for the world and all creation, and whose life is consistent with that principle regardless of the personal cost.
Madiba’s life reflected that in all respects, and because of that the world is far far better place.
Religious fundamentalists are offended when humans are compared to their icons. I understand that, and sincerely respect that position. One of my Christian brothers often warns me about the danger of comparing humans to gods. I agree.
But I must also claim the right to be different in this regard. My life experience as a gay man has not been main stream. And because there was no readymade path for me to conceptualize the nature of God, I had to chop my way through a forest of cultural and religious doctrine and prejudice and find my own. In that process I came to understand God from the bottom up and not the top down.
Understanding God’s humanity allowed me to understand the God spirit within me and opened up the glory of pursuing a life of unconditional love. I feel God’s presence and anointing much more in the examples of human acts of love of Jesus; the acts of forgiveness in the face of evil, gratitude in the face of suffering; joy in obedience to selfless love; than I do in the miracles and extraordinary events.
For those with whom the extraordinary resonates, I have no problem if it brings them to know and understand a God of love, for that is also where my journey takes me.
But in the end what is important to me is how we express that transcendental experience in our daily lives. I don’t care what the ritualistic expression is. I do not need to hear words of praise similar to my own. I do not even need to hear any words. But if I see expressed in how a life is lived the uncompromising dedication to the spirit of unconditional love then I know I am with a kindred spirit.
My pantheon of heroes all share that spirit and give me not only inspiration but also a part of themselves that will live within me and help me to keep faith with my own journey of love.
My belief is the Spirit of love is one spirit and when we claim it we are at once a part of creation’s eternal life force.
So for me, my hero, Madiba (Nelson Mandela) will never die.