Nelson Mandela is dead. At least his body is dead. His spirit is something else. We will all keep the image of that wise old face with the stunning smile long after this moment. Very few men are both great and good. Those people who are usually become defined as Saints.
Saints often start out as less saintly. Mandela had a long road to travel before he arrived in his saint hood state. He was a young man of privilege in his tribe who tried to equalize the injustices of his country, yes, but he also needed to refine his spirit to match his beliefs.
A long stay in Robben Island savaged his body but tempered his soul. None of us who live a comfortable life can even imagine 27 years…many in solitary and hard labor, suffering with TB. He did not come out angry. He came out loving. He taught us about true forgiveness. Not only turning the other cheek, but shaking the hand in friendship that had once struck that cheek.
Thank you, Nelson Mandela, to show us a modern Saint who would have laughed to be called a Saint at all.