At the Johnny Cash Memorial Concert, The Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN, November 10, 2003.
My father’s integrity was the same integrity that informed him as a parent. When I was a teenager, I was lying on the bed in my room, reading a book on astrology, when my dad walked in and asked me what I was reading. And I handed him the book and said: ‘you don’t really believe in this, do you?’ And he said: ‘no, but I think you should find out everything you can about it. That one comment became the template on which I later based my entire philosophy of parenting: trust, respect, and a wide open mind.
My father’s own open mind explored an immense universe of ideas, sound, beauty, mystery, love, pain, and rhythm. He offered that universe to us as our birth right, to delight in our own treasures, and slam up against our own walls, always knowing that his love was close at hand. His heart was so expansive and his mind so finely tuned, that he could pertain both darkness and light, love and trouble, fear and faith, wholeness and shatteredness, addiction and enlightenment, old-school and postmodern, Baptist and Jew, the sacred and the silly, God and the void – but always and relentlessly with the back beat and the rhythm driving the paradoxes.
Daddy was a tremendous energy source, a radiant sender of love in our lives, and I can not begin to describe the enormity of the empty space he has left. A friend told me that your parents keep teaching you after they’re gone, and my sisters and my brother and I have already found that to be true. He keeps pointing us in the direction of our best selves. His humble and luminous spirit resonates so deeply in our lives, and I believe it always will. Because daddy understood his paradoxes so well, he also knew that every day held a choice to be made. I cannot count the times we heard him say: ‘children, you can choose love or hate; I choose love.’ So I tell you, and him, tonight, from our own wide universe of choices: ‘Daddy, we also choose love; and rhythm.’