In Memory of Vaclev Havel

I remember the 10th grade World Cultures student speaking to me at the window on the second floor of my Pocono Mountain Senior classroom.  His question, earnestly asked, was “Do you think the Berlin Wall will ever fall?”  Having come of age in the Cold War, such a Wall-less world seemed fanciful.  My retort – “Maybe in your life time but not in mine.”   Within 2 weeks, the wall fell.

In the coming years, I came to know more of Vaclev Havel, the eventual President of the Czech Repulic who rose to power 8 days after the Berlin Wall fell.  What so fascinated me about the man – a poet by profession – was the overt way he used faith to guide and undergird the burgeoning democracies in Eastern Europe.  He spoke to a democracy with a “soul”, a concept far removed from my American perspective, one in which yes democracy was painted with light patina of spirituality, but certainly not given a “soul.”  As such, as one commentator noted, his “moral authority was bale to stretch a weak presidency beyond what was written in the constitution.”

I remember the resonance of his words that we are  as “beings that have fallen out of Being.”  To return to Being, his call from straightforward; “The only possible place to begin is with myself . . .it is I who must begin . . . For the hope opened up in my heart by this turning toward Being has opened my eyes as well. . . . Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether I am lost.”

So I will miss that presence, and that language, a language so clear on the deeper calls embedded within.


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