Saturday, January 2, 2010

"They Don't Really Need Me...They Need What I Do"

Religion demands of us both courage and humility: a recognition of who we have yet to become is married to the hope, promise, and challenge that a refinement of oneself is both possible and necessary. 

And what is true humility? Rabbi David Wolpe, in his new book, Why Faith Matters, recounts his wife explaining just this to him, as a young rabbi overwhelmed and intimidated by his first "deathbed" visit. 

Rabbi David Wolpe, Why Faith Matters (2009), pg. 111:
That night I came home and my wife asked me how it went. I told her I felt like a fraud, that I had an overwhelming sense that I was not up to shepherding a soul in its final moments on earth. Who am I to do this? I felt unworthy. ‘You are right,’ she said. ‘You are unworthy. Anyone would be unworthy. But it is OK, because you are not doing it. It is being done through you.'
A similarly powerful sentiment is articulated by Bruce Springsteen, in which he recounts life after 9/11, and his experience with Americans' need for him to return to the music scene as both a source of artistic strength and a conduit of collective sentiment.

Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stone Interview, 10/14/2004:
Interviewer: So you feel the call from your heart?
Springsteen: Yeah, I can hear the bells chiming. I’ve had a long life with my audience. I always tell the story about the guy with “The Rising”: “Hey, Bruce, we need you!” he yelled at me through the car window. That’s about the size of it: You get a few letters that say, “Hey, man, we need you.” You bump into some people at a club and you say, “Hey, man, what’s going on?” And they go, “Hey, we need you.Yeah, they don’t really need me, but I’m proud if they need what I do. That’s what my band is. That’s what we were built for.
Humility, expertly explained by a rabbi's wife and a guy named Bruce.

You can read the full text of the Springsteen interview here:

[Wenner, Jann S.  “Bruce Springsteen Talks about His Conscience and the Nature of an Artist and His Audience.” Rolling Stone. 14 Oct 2004. 26 Dec 2009. ]

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