Some things about Aretha’s homegoing didn’t really hit until the next day. Rev. Jesse Jackson’s words was one of them.
Linda Brown died earlier this year (in March, if I’m remembering correctly). Her name might not be familiar to you, but she (and her family) are important names in American history. Linda Brown is the reason we have the case Brown v. Board. Linda Brown was 75.
Aretha Franklin was 76.
Emmett Till, had he not been murdered, would have been 77.
Jesse Jackson is 76 (his birthday is later this year).
John Lewis is 78.
Maxine Waters just turned 80.
Diane Nash is 80.
Marian Wright Edelman is 79.
Andrew Young is 86.
What hit me Saturday morning was that the younger end of the Civil Rights generation is leaving us (Andy Young would more technically be in the middle). And we are still fighting many of the same battles they were. The same is true in Unitarian Universalism.
Psalm 23 talks about walking through the shadow of death. Aretha’s homegoing was a celebration of fearing no evil. Of knowing that Aretha felt she really had a shepherd. Of knowing that Aretha felt she was going to rest in the bosom of G-d.
Yet, it wasn’t just about Aretha. It was about us too. About knowing we belong to somebody. Of know that, even in the midst of the shadow, there is no reason to fear; G-d is with us (whatever one calls that which is beyond us).
So…even though Aretha is gone, she is still with us. Her spirit walks beside us as we continue to walk through the valley of the shadow and fight the fights that need fighting.