Filling Shoes

A storm of sorts ripped through my town a couple of weeks ago. Not your typical storm, it was calm and quiet. It was off the radar, too, with no TV meteorologists waving their arms in front of moving colors. But I still call it a storm and I think you should know it struck. You see, this storm was death and in a 24-hour span death stole some of the future of my town. I’d wager that never in my town’s history had such a loss been suffered.

What are we to do?

I live in Indianapolis, Indiana and on nearly the same late October day a pair of people died silently. They were 92-year old Raymond Leppard and 101-year old P.E. MacAllister. Leppard was a world-class classical music conductor and pianist. He became my town’s greatest contribution to orchestral and chamber music, putting it on the artistic map. P.E. MacAllister was a business owner, a civic innovator, and a million things more, not least of which was a cultural powerhouse in helping to identify, recruit, and secure the gifts of Leppard and others like him. Both men exemplified grace, intelligence, generosity, humanity, and commitment.

Now what?

How does a community replace them? Where do they grow and in what manner do they flourish? How will the many feel the positive effects of such few?

They pursued their individual goals and accomplished much simply as themselves. That’s a wonderful thing. I hope the same for my family and myself. More than that, however, was this crossing of a mysterious line where, beyond which, a person is less and a people is more. They ventured into territory where their efforts produced a good enjoyed by others and valued for a higher sake. They didn’t just do. They touched. They didn’t just succeed. They imprinted.

It’s as true for your life as it is for my town. There are people whose death makes a void. Their removal creates more than a space. It deprives. A particular person in a family or group of friends. Particular people in a community. Death steals them and while memory helps to remind, it cannot replace or restore. The rest of us are left to stand and peer into the distance, over the line.

So the question becomes: what do we do now? Are you the next Leppard and MacAllister? Do you know someone who is? What work has to be done to keep such goodness alive and replenished? Are we certain that the inertia of life will do and be enough?

They left empty shoes. Shoes that are hard to fill. Some years back, a country music singer–a Leppard and MacAllister in his own right and world–posed the same question for the same purpose.

“Lord, I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?”

Thanks for reading. All the best, Dan