This sermon from last Sunday addressed the suicide of Robin Williams through sacred scripture – “The call of God is irrevocable” – and Robin Williams’ dear friend Anne Lamott’s reflection on their journeys with depression, mental illness, addiction, faith, and help. FYI, the title was chosen earlier in the week. By Sunday morning I had discovered Anne Lamott’s lovely reflection following Robin’s death.
Click the link below for the best thing I’ve read since Robin Williams’ death. Anne Lamott’s hastily written words about her dear friend are in a class by themselves. Anne and Robin grew up in the same place, suffered in similar ways, and have brought great pleasure and meaning to so many.
Anne Lamott and Robin Williams
Perhaps I’ve had it all my life,
(you’d have to ask my kids, my wife,
my mother, sibs, kids in the band,
my teachers–school and Sunday School),
but if they knew, they never said,
(I know at least I never heard
or recall one word mean or cruel),
but when I came to middle age
and could not work in manic phase,
or more precisely, when depressed,
wrung out, unable to get dressed,
only a good psychiatrist
could find the meds to slow me down
when high so I could get around
(But then I found I was not bright–
I could not think, I could not write–
and so I had to fire the shrink…)
(After the suicide of Robin Williams, comedian extraordinaire)
– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, August 13, 2014
NOTE: This morning MinnPost published yesterday’s Views from the Edge brief commentary on “Robin Williams and Us” as a Letter to the Editor.
Few people made so many laugh or cry as Robin Williams. Today we’re not laughing. We’re crying.
What Robin’s world inside his own skin was like no one else really knows. His sudden death strikes us with an equally sudden sadness. It punctures a hole in our perceptions, brings to a screeching halt the presumption of dailyness and the ordered worlds in which we wrap ourselves in a society whose madness Robin himself helped us to transcend.
We are not among the few who knew him intimately. As in the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death, we are left to pause and pray for his family and closest friends and to consider again the greater tragedy of violent social order where reason and kindness are as alien as Mork was to this strange world.
The stories in the next days will feed public curiosity, appealing to the need for some cause on which to pin the tragedy, like pinning the tail on the donkey, some manageable explanation for why a man so funny and gifted would apparently take his own life. We will hear that it was clinical depression or bi-polar disorder or drugs or alcohol or some other diagnosis that explains his death.
But will they address the bigger human question to which Robin gave his life in comedy and in drama: why is the world so in love with death? Why is the world we have built for ourselves so cruel? Why does it take an alien named Mork with an innocent young woman named Mindy to deliver us from the love affair with a collective madness for which there seems to be no cure? And how do we, when we bump up against an inexplicable death like Robin’s, pause appropriately in his honor to give thanks for him in both his laughter and his tears?