A poem for Warren Christopher

Warren Christopher

“Come poor, lost, undone sinner, come just as you are to Christ”
George Whitefield (1714 – 1770)

A belated thank you letter…

In Memoriam on the death of a fellow Angeleno, a fellow Hollywood High School student
Secretary of State Warren Christopher (October 27, 1925 – March 18, 2011)

Mr. Secretary…
I remember that day I shook your hand sir
I was an arrogant student and impressed with myself
Look at me, I thought, look at where I am
But the honor of being introduced to you is mine
I apologize if I seemed full of myself that day at UCLA

Mr. Secretary…
I remember when you came back to our troubled Los Angeles
When the city exploded in fire and hell
In the aftermath of the LAPD beating of Rodney King
After I had watched my city, your city burn
You came to heal our city, you did not shy away from the task

Mr. Secretary…
For the world is a terrible place… and you saw your fair share
People murder each other all the time with no end in sight
Yet you came back to this blasted City, to our smoggy LA
You came to heal our city of fallen Angels, I won’t forget that
For that I am thankful, I think I salvaged a bit of myself

Mr. Secretary…
When I thanked you as a fellow Angeleno… for your work
Let me thank you again for that handshake too
I forgot to thank you as a fellow Hollywood High School alumni
On behalf of all of us from Hollywood High, let me thank you now
It was the kind of handshake one never forgets

Mr. Secretary…
It was years after the event, another calamity had come to us
So we shared a new moment of terror, a new moment of pain
There will be articles complaining about your failures
They will sing your accords and nitpick your decisions
I cannot, mine is not to judge you today

Mr. Secretary…
That was not why we met, it could not be
There is always meaning even in passing meetings
I asked that one uncomfortable question at the mike
About the one thing you wanted to forget about
But, like the expert diplomat, you answered with skill

Mr. Secretary…
I remember your eyes, your incisive, sharp eyes
The eyes of a man who could have been a preacher
But instead was called to serve in war and became a politician
That gaze you had that penetrated to my soul
I thank you for that, it let me know of the vicissitudes of life

Mr. Secretary…
I remember how you looked
I can see your face even now all these years later
It wasn’t a one-off handshake of a politician
You took the time to repeat my name
You took the time to let me memorize your face

Mr. Secretary…
Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry.
Is that what you thought then?  I know that is the impression you made
And though we cannot agree Politically, do we not love the same?
The longer I live, the larger allowances I make for human infirmities
Is that what you thought then?  If so, I get it now

Mr. Secretary…
There we stood after September 11, 2001
And you had the audacity to speak of peace
You had the temerity to hope for peace when our nation cried
I thank you for that, a small moment, I know
But in this world how necessary

Mr. Secretary…
Let vengeance be done, you were a man of action
But let the wounds also heal, Rwanda was not your fault
To err is human sir, decisions are not to be second-guessed
Who knows what consequences you foresaw
Sin is always inevitable, atonement is always possible

Let there be light Mr. Secretary…
From our common Savior, from Him alone who can forgive
Did you experience Christ personally, is that what drove you?
I know I have, and in that, we share His grace
He will pardon you, you did your best, there can be no doubt
Oslo, China, Haiti, Israel & Jordan, Dayton, Vietnam – good works

Mr. Secretary…
Back in Scranton, back in North Dakota
Where the population is only 300 today
Did you know you would touch a poet’s heart one day?
I am sure that was the furthest from your mind
When you went off to fight in the Pacific

Mr. Secretary…
I pray for you tonight, my Mom just walked in
She told me you died, and I cried
I should be doing all these other things
But that’s not why we met, let haste be haste
This moment I commit you to my heart

Mr. Secretary…
You followed the path, you followed it humbly
It does not matter how many stumbles you had
It does not matter how many lofty heights you had
In the midst of life, we are in death…
And He will have mercy upon us, miserable offenders

Mr. Secretary…
You have left undone those things which you ought to have done
And we all have done those things which we ought not to have done
But one moment in time you and I stood face to face
And you didn’t judge me harshly, instead, you shook my hand
I thank you for that, fellow American, I salute you.

March 19, 2011 – Konrad Tademar

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