March 7, 2024 

When my brother and I were children in the 1970’s my father loved to play records on the old hi-fi in our living room. His choices were, of course, as varied as his eclectic tastes– ranging from classical music, recordings of Shakespeare plays, songs by The Beatles, The Doors, The Eagles, and, sadly, when we got that eight track player, the stylings of Barry Manilow. But what do I know? Barry’s making a comeback and even my daughter likes singing “Copacabana.”

But I distinctly remember the time my dad sat me down and made me listen to the song “The Impossible Dream” from the Broadway musical, Man of La Mancha. If you’re not familiar with it, let me share some of the lyrics with you.  Don’t worry. I’m not going to sing. 

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear, with unbearable sorrow

And to run where the brave dare not go

To right the un-rightable wrong

And to love, pure and chaste from afar

To try, when your arms are too weary

To reach the unreachable star

And I know, if I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will be peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this

That one man scorned and covered with scars

Still strove with his last ounce of courage

To reach the unreachable

The unreachable

The unreachable


And then, when the song was over, my father looked me in the eyes and said, “If everyone thought like this, the world would be a beautiful place.” I never forgot that. 

If you haven’t guessed it, my father was a bit of a dreamer and was occasionally criticized for being too idealistic, sometimes unwilling to see the duplicity and cruelty of the people. A fair criticism? Perhaps. And I guess this is the part of the eulogy where I’m supposed to chime in and say that dad wasn’t perfect, that he had his faults, and yes, he had a few. I remember when he had his midlife crisis and brought home a 1968 Bahama yellow Porsche 911, and then tried to convince mom it was an “investment.” And let’s not even talk about the time he took me to see JAWS in the movies when I was seven. Small wonder I don’t like the ocean. But Dad’s foibles were just the garden variety mistakes people make in life. Nothing serious. But The Impossible Dream and the idealism it represented, was in a real way, the guiding force of my father’s life. No surprise he became a teacher, a career where you’re not rolling in dough.  And during a forty year career as an educator, Dad not only helped guide and train countless teachers, but enabled thousands of students to follow their own star. 

His faith in beautiful dreams also can be found in his 57 year marriage to his beloved wife Barbara, an example of faithfulness in good times and bad that we can only hope to emulate. He also passed down his ideals to my brother Mark and I, which, in its own time and way, helped to make us better people than we had any right to expect. And now Dad’s dreams will live on in his grandchildren, Natalie, and Ethan, and one day in their children. Or will they?

Because a dream is just that, a dream. How many of have awakened only to forget them by the time we’ve had our morning cup of coffee? How many of us, beaten down by life, have given up on our dreams?  Our hopes to be a better spouse, friend, or parent? To do that good deed, overcome that obstacle, or even forgive?  How many of us have left our idealism in the dust, saying that dreams don’t pay the bills and that the world just doesn’t work that way. 

Then again, look where we are and what we’re doing – gathering in a church to talk about resurrection and eternal life. To many people that seems not only an impossible dream but magical thinking. But then again, the Gospels have always seemed like an impossible dream have they not? Preached by a poor commoner also scorned and covered with scars, who told us upside down things like the last shall be first and that the meek will inherit the earth. Who told a wealthy young man that money and the trappings of success are unimportant. A teacher who proclaimed God is a father who adores us no matter what and whose resurrection turned the judgment of mankind on its head and showed us that love is how the world truly works. Is that an impossible dream? Maybe. But it certainly is a beautiful one.   

My father believed in the impossible dream and yearned for a beautiful world – but the beautiful – beauty – is also an upside down, strange thing. Have you ever been terribly sad only to find to your shock, maybe even to your offence, that it’s still a beautiful day outside? That despite your anger and grief, beautiful moments and people keep appearing? That’s because beauty lavishes its gifts upon us no matter how we feel, no matter what’s happening, or whether we deserve it or not.  We may not always sense its presence, but it is always there, and it just keeps giving and giving and giving.  And it can do that because beauty is very patient and very kind. It doesn’t keep score or score points. Beauty bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails.  Of course, beauty is just another word for love and, if in your pain, you’ve missed lovely moments in life, you needn’t worry, because there will always be more to come. That is, when you think about it, an impossible mercy – and Beauty, Love, is indeed merciful, because it whispers to us that in God “nothing is ever lost, and the substance of hope lies in the knowledge that God has given – and will give – again.” And just from the smile on his face when he would see my daughter, I know Dad knew that too.  So, when we leave here today, I think the greatest tribute we can give my father is to be like that Man from La Mancha – to keep dreaming and strive to make the world a more beautiful place. 

Now Dad, you have now reached the end of your glorious quest. Your heart is peaceful and calm as we lay you to rest. And the world is better for this, better because you were here. And, in a way that surpasses all understanding, you are now truly awake, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the dream was never impossible, because nothing – nothing – is impossible with God.  

Dad, you have finally reached that unreachable star. 

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