Do you remember Don Quixote?
I guess I’m revealing my age by simply asking the question. Quixote was the “mad” knight in a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners. The Broadway hit ran for 2328 performances and won five Tony awards, including Best Musical. From it was born the song The Impossible Dream.
It was Don Quixote’s dream that made the tale. His appearance seemed ludicrous. Makeup and powder in his hair – gray and disheveled. A twisted piece of tree limb for a spear. A barber’s shaving bowl for a helmet of gold. An honorable knight or a fool? That was the point.
There are images of grace in the story, and all of that is well and good. But in the end the man is just a man. It’s kind of like the curtain-pulled-back reality check of The Wizard of Oz. Sometimes life reminds us just how fragile and finite we really are. For some reason, this has been that kind of week for me.
Don Cash, at the age of 55, just died at the top of Mount Everest. After reaching his seventh and final summit climbing the tallest mountain on each continent, Cash has departed this life. He was so passionate about mountain climbing that he left his job to join the “Seven Summits Club.” Mr. Cash lost fingers to frostbite on earlier adventures, and likely succumbed to a heart attack on Everest – the world’s tallest peak.
I guess there’s something in all of us that can identify with reaching for an “unreachable star.” That being said, when I’m really feeling my finiteness, I’m sure glad that I have something to stand on that’s more steady than an impossible dream.
From The Book of Common Prayer …
“Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me;
I will never turn away anyone who believes in me.”
He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead
will also give new life to our mortal bodies
through his indwelling Spirit.
My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Lord bless him and keep him, the Lord make his face to shine upon him and be gracious to him, the Lord lift up his countenance upon him and give him peace. Amen.
That’s called “The Committal,” and I use parts of it nearly every time I preside over a burial. Why? Because, for those of us who remain, it’s both a needed reality check and a source of incredible hope!
You see, dear friends, IN CHRIST we have it all. The only alternative to gospel grace is chasing after the impossible. But, IN CHRIST – even in the face of death – “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). In spite of every human weakness and frailty, IN CHRIST our countenance is lifted up … and we find peace.