I need a hero. I long to be inspired. But in today’s culture, we seem to go out of our way to knock people off their pedestals and make sure that everyone’s imperfections are brought into the full glare of social scrutiny. Still, I yearn for a hero – someone to look to for an example of strength and greatness. I want to see who else has lived on this plagued earth and made the most of the experience.
Well, here are three examples I have turned to this week which have lightened my striving efforts and comforted my straining heart. First, I have been reading the life story of Beethoven (Beethoven: Master Composer by H. J. Gimpel) to my younger children, and though I know the basic history, I learned something that really caught my attention this week. I happen to adore Beethoven’s 7th symphony, second movement. It turns out that as Beethoven was going deaf, he considered suicide because it was so painful to be such a passionate artist and lose the one faculty which should have been his strongest asset. But love for his art and humanity stayed his hand. And remarkably, he wrote some of his best music after he went deaf! What a miracle and gift. What strength! To endure such a loss and produce his best art nevertheless. Now there is a hero I can look up to. And to think, if he had not gone deaf – he might not have written down so much of his work simply because he enjoyed doing live performances. God knew what Beethoven could never in his wildest imagination have known – that some day a widow with 8 kids would gain strength and hope from his work while listening to a CD in the car on the way to and from the supermarket. His passionate love stems the centuries and his music touches souls even still.
Second, I have read the life of Thomas More before and though I was always impressed by his intelligence and devotion to God and church, there were some aspects of his earlier character & writings that I did not care for. But I recently read an article in the Latin Mass magazine (Winter/Spring 2015 – The Long Lent of Saint Thomas More) which details his last days before his death and the letters he wrote to his daughter, Margaret. When I imagine the faith and devotion it took for him to not only “stay the course” all the while yearning to be with his family – all the lonely hours, days, months spent in prison knowing what his fate was likely to be, and yet, never once hating his tormentors – in fact, wishing them well – I am truly astonished. I can envision the silent tomb of a prison, his bowed head, and his remarkable acceptance: God’s will be done. He was truly a hero and died according to his life’s convictions. “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends.” He laid down his life, not only for his friends but for his enemies as well. Only a true hero would do that.
Finally, I read an article in the Knights of Columbus Columbia magazine (March 2015 – Sustaining Hope in Haiti) about the men and women who responded to the devastation in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010 and helped to provide prosthetic arms and legs to those who had lost theirs in the aftermath of the earthquake. No one had to go and help. No one had to share their time, effort, wealth and skill, but they did, and they made a huge difference to each and every individual who needed them. The cover picture of a man helping a little girl with her new leg is awe inspiring. A love that asks for nothing – just to be allowed to love is the greatest love of all.
We all need heroes. And through the grace of God they do exist. We just have to be willing to see and gain from their example the strength to: Go and do likewise…