All Saints: Steve Jobs

First, read this, if you haven’t already. It’s the eulogy for Steve Jobs, given by his sister, Mona Simpson.

I cried at the end, and maybe you did too. It was the best of everything eulogies should be. I wonder how long it will be until theologians are debating what his final words might mean, since he was a Buddhist. I don’t much care….I just am touched and overwhelmed at the beauty of a sister’s words for her brother and at her inclusion of such a private, beautiful moment at the very end of his life.

My sermon on Sunday included four people who changed or can change the world, and Steve Jobs was one of them. The others, if you’re keeping score, were the prophet Jeremiah, Martin Luther, and you. Yes, you. You can hear it here, if you’re so inclined.

Anyway, after that sermon and reading that eulogy, my understanding was deepened even more of Steve Jobs as someone who changed the world because of his lack of fear in the face of failure. He lost his job….even a job that HE originated! He invented stuff that flopped, that didn’t work. And he did not, according to this eulogy, let himself be discouraged for a second about it. I want to respect his religion, which was Buddhism, by not calling this “faith,” but I will call this a beautiful virtue for someone to live by. I will also say that for Christians, this lack of fear comes from the awareness of God’s forgiveness. If you know you are forgiven, there’s nothing you can’t do. If you know you’re forgiven, you can feel free to invent and fail and try again and CHANGE THE WORLD.

On All Saints’ Day, which we’ll celebrate this Sunday, I think about my dad, who died nearly 14 years ago this Christmas. He was a good dad, not perfect, but one of the saints for sure. One of my last memories of my dad is hiking with him on the day he died. We walked down to a waterfall and back up again, because that’s the kind of thing my dad wanted to do with his family, even though we were in college by then. I remember his awe at the waterfall and the beauty of the hike, and though he died MUCH too soon, I have often thought that for one of the saints, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect last day. It was one of the most awful days of my whole life, but I believe that my dad is kept by God and is in the “cloud of witnesses” who cheers us on as we keep on struggling through this life. It was really, really, hard to get to the place where I found a bit of peace with my dad’s death, but All Saints helps, every single time.

And hearing stories like Steve Jobs’ helps too. Whatever your faith, how beautiful to think about at the end of our lives, finally looking God in the face, and saying “Oh, WOW.”

Cloudland Canyon near Chattanooga, TN

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