Twenty years ago on this day (the feast day of St. John in the Orthodox calendar), I was getting ready to teach an evening class when I received word that my dear friend and mentor Bob Lax had died. I turned out my office light and let the tears flow–tears of gratitude as much as of grief, for I had been blessed with 15 years of close friendship with this warm, funny, smart, creative, and humanely spiritual man.
Of all the things I learned from Lax, perhaps the most important was to find and follow my own path in life. I suppose that is why I ended my biography of him, Pure Act, with these words:
Several people who knew Lax said he found what [his friend Thomas] Merton was looking for: a kind of solitude, simplicity, and peace that passes human understanding. Some have even said he was the one who became a saint. None of this would have meant much to him except perhaps as inspiration to others. What he--and Merton--found, he thought, was his own way of walking. His own way of singing the song. He own way of being pure act. For, as he once wrote, there are not many songs there is one song the animals lope to it the fish swim to it the sun circles to it the stars rise the snow falls the grass grows there is no end to the song and no beginning the singer may die but the song is forever truth is the name of the song and the song is truth.
May the song Lax sang resound in all of us who loved him or love his work and love the truth he sang about. And may we find our own new ways to sing it too.