I had the TV on today and watched the news and tributes to Ted Kennedy. Now, I can't say I know the Kennedy's like my American friends. I don't remember where I was when John F was assassinated. I do remember the despair and horror of that event, but it wasn't the same being in another country. But to put it into perspective I can guess that most of you don't remember where you were when, hmmm, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau twirled a pirouette behind Queen Elizabeth as he followed her out of the room, or where you were when Canada lost its innocence and fired a live missile during the Gulf War - (don't worry, we missed, but it was a shot heard across Canada!)
But today I watched and listened to the Kennedy funeral and memorial, which is more than some of my friends here can say, ahem. Let me comment on just a couple things.
First, I heard a lot of good theology. In fact, I heard some of the finest theology I have ever heard on TV or radio coming from news broadcasters who were describing Teddy's faith. The Roman Catholic theology of suffering, of the meaning of life, of forgiveness and redemption was, well, stunningly presented. Besides this, more than once I heard a commentator make the point that Kennedy's faith makes it possible to die well, as surely as to live well. True. I know it is true.
Secondly, there were some very fine quotes. My personal favorite was Joe Biden who, in talking about how Kennedy had made some serious mistakes in his early years pointed out that he didn't quit, but continued to grow and learn. This is his quote, "He made a lie out of his mistakes." I love that. Beautifully put.
Another was the tribute from Ted Jr. I have to admit I cried. The obvious love of a man for his dad, and a dad for his family, was something my heart rejoices to hear. I loved the story of his dad helping his succeed and believe in himself after he lost his leg.
And the victory of Kennedy's wife, Vicki, who is given credit for dramatically recharacterizing Kennedy's life... who knows how much strength a good woman can give.
The high mass was, admittedly, long. My friend Nancy Bailey had a high mass for her funeral, and it felt the same. A lot of symbolism and ritual, loaded with meaning unless you don't know the meaning. But meaningful to those for whom it is meant.
I love that this country has room for great people. I love that a family can stand together in a time of sadness. And in the richness of this long 48 hours of saying goodbye to Ted Kennedy I was able to dwell in the realities of my faith and my family - the strengths each member brings, the hope that lasts, the sureness that we also will gather during times of celebration and sadness.
So it was a good day to be almost American. I like it here.