This Memorial Day weekend, I am reflecting on the fallen service men and women, and others who sacrificed for us through the years, and are doing so now. I am also thinking of two friends whose funerals we will be attending Tuesday and Wednesday. Particularly S., who I knew better.
S. battled cancer 4 years. He had so much spirit, and was always courageous and upbeat, even when living through cancer and its debilitating treatment. He was a psychiatrist, greatly interested in people. His particular hobby was learning and exploring Byzantine culture and history. He and his wife M's favorite foreign country was Turkey. Over the years, he taught a few classes at our church on Byzantine Christianity. We facilitated a mourner's path workshop together for several years. He was always seeking ways to reach out to others, and was full of ideas for helping the community. He'll be greatly missed by many. Here was his favorite quote, which seems especially appropriate this holiday:
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we only see the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places -- and there are many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. Life is meaningless only if we allow it to be. Each of us has the power to give life meaning; to make our time and our bodies and our words into instruments of love and hope.
--Howard Zinn (historian)