Goodbye Madiba.


18 July 1918 − 5 December 2013

Not long ago, Nelson Mandela passed from this life to the next.   Although Madiba had lived nearly a century, and he fought a long struggle towards the end of his life, and is finally at peace, I am still sad.

Madiba is a hero.  Madiba is my hero.  Today my hero died and I feel empty.

In light of this great sadness I am surprised to feel at his passing, I have typed a dozen paragraphs hoping to express just why that sadness is there.  I was hoping to find the words to explain to others why this man was so important to me… to us.   In the end, what has taken form has come up both empty and short.   The job of celebrating his life and legacy must apparently fall to someone else.

Yet, I must honor this man and the shadow he cast upon my life, my calling, and the world.

Although I didn’t know the man and never met him, I felt like I did.    His story has long taken root in me, and has been a source of inspiration and example.  With those inadequate paragraphs staring at me from my laptop, I find myself wishing – longing – for the words.

In the end, I do not believe they will come.   So instead of forcing the words, I turn towards him.  I turn to Madiba’s own words in “Long Walk to Freedom”:

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

 They will be enough for me today.  Although his physical life is over, the walk – the ripples that remain – are far from over.

Goodbye Madiba… Well done, you good and faithful servant.


The following poem is often – but erroneously – attributed to Nelson Mandela, perhaps because the words are so appropriate that we can almost hear him saying them.

Our Deepest Fear,  By Marianne Williamson

 Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

             It is our light, not our darkness

                          That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

            Your playing small

                  Does not serve the world.

                        There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking

                                   So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,

As children do.

We were born to make manifest

The glory of God that is within us.

           It’s not just in some of us;

                  It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

        As we’re liberated from our own fear,

              Our presence automatically liberates others

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