Last weekend at the Monroe County Relay for Life, my wife and I were mesmerized by the rich, powerful, baritone voice of Robert Ogletree, who looks and sings like a young Paul Robeson. He stood before the crowd of his fellow cancer survivors and belted out: “You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings.” All of us began to think of our own “wind,” our own life support, our own heroes. Anyone who survives life itself, let alone cancer, has somebody “holding up their wings.”
Who holds up your wings?
Ogletree sang: “You were content to let me shine, that’s your way. You always walked a step behind.” All of us who have enjoyed any kind of power know exactly what this means. For example, you can’t think of a president without his first lady. He’s up on the podium giving the speech and then glowing in the applause, but she’s sitting off to the side making mental notes about the mistakes she’ll tell him about later. Again, the song captures this moment: “So I was the one with all the glory while you were the one with all the strength.”
Who’s your strength?
The most powerful moment came when Robert leaned into the microphone and softly sang these words: “Did you ever know that you’re my hero?” I looked at my wife and saw tears in her eyes, and I thought about our many years together. Really, how could any woman know -- if this was the first time I’d ever told her?
When we were first married (nearly 50 years ago) I found it very difficult to say: “I love you.” I used to think it was because I had spent my whole life in a monastery, but I was wrong. I found out over time that men who weren’t monks have the same problem. I don’t have that problem anymore.
How often do you tell her?
The word for “wind” in Hebrew is Ruach. In the very first chapter of the book of Genesis, the author writes about the creation of the universe and says: “The Ruach of Elohim (the wind of God) was moving gently on the face of the waters.” So even Elohim has a wind; a gentle, silent, invisible hand that guides the creation. But Elohim gets all the credit. When the waters are divided to produce the sky and the earth, it’s Elohim who says: “it’s good.” When plants spring up on the earth and stars populate the skies and fish swim in the ocean, it’s Elohim who says: “Oh yeah, it’s good.” And at the end when both man and woman are created, once again we see Elohim -- not Ruach -- resting on the seventh day and saying: “Hey, it’s very, very good!”
Where’s your Ruach?
This beautiful song ends with these words: “I can fly high against the sky, so high I almost touch the sky. Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.”
On this last Sunday in May, I know all of us can thank God for that one person who has been the wind beneath our wings. We don’t have to look very far; we don’t have to think very long. Our wind, our Ruach, is very close indeed.
I know mine is.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corp. and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.