If you will allow me a bit of reverent plagiarism this time around, what follows appeared in a newsletter to which I subscribe.
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The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham is now 91 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Some time ago, civic leaders in Charlotte invited their favorite son to attend a luncheon in his honor.
Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because of his struggles with Parkinson’s, but the Charlotte leaders said, “We don’t expect a major address. Please just come and let us honor you.”
After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd and began speaking slowly and softly. “I am reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who was honored by Time Magazine as its Man of the Century.
“Dr. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the Conductor came down the aisle, punching everyone’s ticket. When he came to Dr. Einstein, the great man reached in his vest pocket for his ticket. It was not there, so he searched through his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there. He went through his briefcase, but, alas, no ticket. Then he looked in the seat beside him, but the ticket was not to be found.
“The Conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I am very sure that you bought a ticket, so don’t worry about it. You don’t need a ticket to ride the train today.’
“Dr. Einstein nodded appreciatively. The Conductor continued on down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned to see Dr. Einstein down on his hands and knees, still looking for his ticket.
“The Conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, please don’t worry about it. I know who you are: there’s no problem. You don’t have to have a ticket. I’m sure you bought one.’
“Einstein looked up at him and said, ‘Young man, I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I am going.’”
Having said that, Billy Graham continued.
“See the suit I am wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My children and my grandchildren bought me a new suit, to wear to this luncheon and on one other occasion. Do you know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I will be buried.
“But when you hear that I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I am wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am; I also know where I am going.”
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“People get ready.
There’s a train a comin’
Don’t need no baggage.
You just get on board.
All you need is faith,
To hear the diesels hummin’.
You don’t need no ticket,
You just thank the Lord.”
- Curtis Mayfield