On February 27, 2015 at the age of 83, Leonard Nimoy died in his Bel Air home.
In his memory, the next three sections will serve to honor his legacy, comfort his friends, and to draw from Nimoy’s life the glory of our Lord.
The Legacy of Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)
Most notably, we remember Nimoy for his character Mr. Spock from the television series, “Star Trek” and for the phrase, “Live long and prosper” with its equally notable hand gesture. A gesture that pointed back to his roots as a Ukrainian Jew. His childhood in the synagogue had imprinted upon him the priestly blessing of Numbers that would become his famous Vulcan salutation. As a cultural icon and phenomenon, Spock’s influence on Star Trek has been a noted force against anti-Semitism and Nimoy’s success further evidences the potential for immigrants to define American culture. For people of faith, he demonstrated that ancient truths would continue to be relevant to the future to come and despite our advances in technology. Spock’s character remains a testimony that the traditional and intellectual were concepts to be paired together.
For his Family and Friends
Our faith teaches us to pray for Nimoy like this, “Grant rest, O Lord, to Thy servant Leonard.” In his eternal memory, join me in that short prayer. While most of us did not personally know Leonard Nimoy or even have to the opportunity to meet him, there is in his public work a friendship with his personality. Thus we mourn over his death and as St. Paul instructs us, “weep with them who weep.” As we reminisce upon our fondest memories of the half-Vulcan as death has now gripped him, may we be comforted by his long and prosperous life. We can find comfort in knowing that his persona has been indelibly preserved on our memories and on digital media, and because of this, he will never really be gone.
A few days before his death, Nimoy shared this on his Twitter: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”
To Boldly Go…
Like Nimoy’s life, the Star Trek series is rife with allusions and pictures of love and redemption. Each episode began with an opening narration that spoke of the mission of the USS Enterprise to, “boldly go where no man has gone before.” As a Christian, I cannot help but think upon this mission and see it in that of Christ’s incarnation.
As we come together this day to mourn, we see our own mortality, we understand that it is appointed once for all men to die. Over the next few weeks, there will be those murmuring about Nimoy’s eternal state and others pointing to his smoking and other habits in relation to his death, don’t join them. Instead think upon our own condition and how our High Priest so greatly condescended to be with us. Christ boldly took on human flesh and was born from the virgin Mary so as to live and dwell among the people He loved. Through his fleshly incarnation he is able to sympathize with our condition and testifies to the pain of death.
In the Gospels, we see Jesus weep over the death of his friend Lazarus. Even today, I expect that Jesus joins us in weeping over Leonard’s death. Yet, through the pain of death we are afforded the oppurtunity to express our love for one another as we mourn together. In weeping, we imitate Christ who sympathized with man to the point of his own death, where he was offered up as the solution to the sting of mortality. Through the crucifixion, death itself loses all power over us. The blood that poured down from a jew upon a roman cross represents Christ’s pity for our human condition. By suffering a human death, he shows us how He can share in all our sorrows.
Imagine with me the raised hands of Christ, palms forward and fingers separated in a Vulcan salute for the world. Now see him as soldiers drive nails through those same hands. Now imagine after his anguish and death, Christ boldly going where no man has gone before: to death and back. In the resurrection, Christ again salutes his disciples and with outstretch arms, “Put your finger here, and see my hands… Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
For our friend Leonard, Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Please feel free to leave your own prayers for Leonard in the comments below.