Twenty-five years ago, in 1982, postage stamps cost 20¢. George Bush the older was merely a vice president. “E.T.” and “Gandhi” premiered on the big screen. Alice Walker turned “The Color Purple” into prose.
Most of all, though, Satchel Page died, after having crossing the color line near the close of his brilliant baseball career.
Page is the one who created what I consider the greatest wisdom statement of the modern era: “Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”
Marking a quarter century of covenant vows is no small thing. To seek inspiration for this blessing, I turned to that ancient erotic document in Hebrew Scripture, King Solomon’s Song. And came up with these lines. After 25 years, Bill’s hair is no longer like a flock of goats. His cheeks are no longer like beds of spice; his arms, no longer like rounded gold. We won’t mention his back—but his speech, thanks be, is still most sweet!
And after 25 years, Sylvia’s belly is not quite the heap of wheat it once was, her eyes a pool of Heshbon, nor her neck like an ivory tower. To my knowledge, her nose was never like a tower overlooking Damascus.
Both of them, though, have prepared their feasts and reared their children and set their sights on “wisdom’s table,” another image attributed to Solomon. Does not wisdom call, and raise her voice, taking her stand at the crossroads, crying out for the truth (cf. Prov. 8-9). Those lines may be the greatest wisdom utterance of the ancient era.
So, Bill & Sylvia, may you continue to work like you don’t need the money; love like you’ve never been hurt; and dance like nobody’s watching.
May the wood continue offering its exquisite elegance to your touch. May the fabric and tiles ever tell tales of wonder and beauty.
And may it be delightful, even when hands tire. Even when no buyers can be found.
May the gales that roar up Wolf Pen Mountain find you safely cleft, sheltered in the confidence that no storm can shake your inmost calm.
Indeed, may you remember that the hills and hollows that surround you were hallowed well before any work of your hands or will of your purpose. You belong to them as much as they to you.
When the editors and the critics and the merely curious finish with you—whatever their conclusions—may they know they have wrangled with truthtellers.
May friends as near as Clyde and as far away as Capetown find sanctuary and sustenance in your home and in your heart.
May the beer be cold, may the kindling be dry, may the birds be resplendent and the bears keep their distance.
And, finally, may you live to see the day when mercy trumps vengeance—the day when all that has been shamed and shackled and shattered—be restored to praise and doxology, according to the Promise which was, which is and which ever shall be. Amen.
©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org. June 2007.