DAVIS: When living legends leave this earth

Jackie Davis

There are people who walk this earth in iconic ways. From the moment they reach an age of awareness, they begin making decisions and life choices that affect everyone and everything around them — for years, for decades, for a lifetime. It doesn’t mean that they're not human, or that they're perfection personified, or that they never make mistakes along life’s way, or that they are somehow surreal in their existence. It does mean that as they live, grow, work, perform, serve, create, invent, write or play, they leave their "life print" on the hearts and minds of people around the world.

All of us could name someone whom society calls a living legend. The world is full of them. From sports, music, news, dance, religion, science, art, and so many other sectors, the lists are endless. From famous to personally impactful, we all can name people that we consider legendary.

So, what happens when such legends leave this earth, when those who we thought could go on forever close their eyes for the last time and depart? It’s almost like the world holds its breath for a moment, gathers itself and exhales in an outpouring of emotion and action, trying somehow to acknowledge that an extraordinary life has left the planet. Their memories flood our hearts and the ways they touched our lives live on, but as mere human beings we need a moment to recognize the passage of excellence.

Recently, the United States of America lost such a living legend. Civil rights icon John Lewis departed this life, leaving behind the impact of his incredible accomplishments. He drew his last breath during a time when we, as a nation, are re-fighting some of the very same battles for justice and equality that he fought as a young man. Like many of you, I’ve watched memorials and ceremonies, seen the flag-draped casket lie in state, read his words and listened to recordings of his voice and actions. I grieve along with other Americans as our nation tries its best to honor this extraordinary African American man. For this moment in time, a shining light has gone out, and we must recognize the after-glow of his existence.

In the midst of all the formalities and protocols of government, I have been especially touched by the simple stories of Congressman John’s humility and kindness, how he never put on grand airs or expected preferential treatment, how he inspired and encouraged people on a personal level and did random acts of kindness before they even knew who he was.

As I watch his flag-draped casket honored before reaching its final resting place, I’m reminded of these verses on humility.

“The fear (respect) of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” — Prov. 15:33.

“He has shown you O man what is good, and what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” — Micah 6:8.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” — 1 Peter 5:6.

When living legends leave this earth, who they were and what they stood for can truly help transform generations that follow. May we all learn from the powerful legacy of Congressman John Lewis.

Jackie Davis is an experienced inspirational vocalist, musician and music instructor in Lockport. Her column is published every other week in the Union-Sun & Journal. Contact her at jackiedavis.music.words@gmail.com .

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