Sunday, January 29, 2012

so ends a life

Today, for the first time in a long time, I read the Sunday paper from beginning to end.

I knew Joe Paterno had died this past week but was reminded today as I read his obituary on page 29:

"Joe Paterno, 85, former Penn State football coach, known as 'Joe Pa,' who won 409 Division 1 games and was fired in November amid a child sex abuse scandal; Jan. 22, in State College, Pa., of lung cancer."

His life was summed up in little more than one square inch of newsprint tucked in the middle of section two.

His major achievement: a prime number of victories. Whether one thinks him innocent or guilty, wise or foolish, he will forever be remembered as the coach with knowledge of sex abuse in his ranks.

It struck me: the sum of a life most often amounts to how it ends.

By contrast, Moses was a man who murdered another in the early years of his life. He fled and spent forty years as a shepherd, then was called by God to deliver his people from the hand of a cruel despot. His life, summed up in the following words:

"Now Moses was a very humble man...And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab...but to this day no one knows where his grave is. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days...Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face..."

So ends a life. So begins a memory and a legacy.

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