He isn't dead yet, he may well postpone the inevitable far beyond what the prognosticators and his enemies predict, and I admire the indomitable courage that propels men like him. But I am grieving for Ted Kennedy today.
He's a deeply flawed man who betrayed a wife and a companion by his misdeeds and lack of courage, when what he did mattered immensely and cost a young woman her life. There is no excusing that behavior nor glossing over it.
And yet, if reconciliation and redemption are truly the salvific events of life that we as religious people proclaim them to be, Ted Kennedy has done what he can to redeem himself and to make amends, however inadequate those amends might be for a loss of life. I suspect he has experienced the deep regret and shame of that loss of life ever since that fateful day. In fact, it may be the driving force behind his political career as a progressive Senator.
From that deeply flawed, party animal of a young man, emerged a lion of social justice. He continued to be flawed, yet his newfound courage gave him the impetus to stick his neck out for causes of equality, of justice, of safety and health. He saw that there was a higher power than "the Church" and he chose that higher power, though he did not leave his family faith.
He has been roundly condemned by those who disagree with his political and social views, yet nobody, I suspect, would wish this kind of challenge upon him. It's a shame that others who can't forget his youthful behavior do not see that all the rest of his life he has atoned for that youthful behavior by championing difficult and contentious causes, in order that others might have life and might have it more abundantly.
He was born into wealth and privilege; he used that wealth and privilege in bad ways and good. May he have the strength and courage that wealth and privilege do not provide but which come from within, and when he dies, may he have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that he chose a path of justice and compassion.