It appears that the death of Nelson Mandela is imminent. Word from South Africa tonight is that his family is coming in from all over to be near his bedside. At 94, this remarkable life will not go quietly. It will hardly go unnoticed. If ever the arc of a lifetime could become a paradigm for a century, for the moral enlightenment of a country, for the inspiration and wisdom of reconciliation, it would have t be Mandela. From prisoner to President is beyond remarkable.
When Mandela leave this earth, there will be plenty of time to savor his impact. And while that could be any day now, the news in my corner of the planet is tempered by another loss of life. A life, arguably that contrasts with Mandela's in mysterious and profound ways, nonetheless.
It seems the body of a newborn was found in a recycling center near Portland. The child had once been alive. Disturbing as this is, the case continues to baffle and disturb so much that authorities today have released a flyer with the baby's hand and feet prints. The humanization of one so dehumanized is such an affront that it might be just the step needed to solve the mystery.
And yet these two lives swirl around in my brain in a rather uncomfortable juxtaposition. One of stunning length and contribution, the other lived painfully brief, if at all. Another Zen koan of sorts, the particulars irritate my soul.
Yet, there are ways, like dream dialogues or monologues that help bring meaning where none seems likely. This unnamed child and the brilliant, strong, defiant, empathetic Mandela belong to us all. They are in everyone. To what extent, their own lives will tell.