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Gone from mystery into mystery ...

I've been humming Bruce Cockburn's song today, after learning yesterday about the passing of Dallas Willard, who was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer late last year. His life was devoted to living and loving into four questions:

What is reality? What is the good life? Who is a good person? And how do you became a good person?

Dallas and I got to know each other more deeply when he and I were invited to meet with a group of young leaders several times over a period of a couple years. He was very kind to me on every occasion our paths crossed, as he was, I'm sure, to everyone. He agreed to meet with me for early breakfasts before the day's sessions got started, and sometimes again after the last session ended, so I could ply him with questions - philosophical, Biblical, theological, and practical. Whatever my questions, though, our conversations would drift back to what is reality, what is the good life, who is a good person, and how does one become a good person?

He once agreed to come preach at Cedar Ridge, where I served as a pastor for many years. "Is there a particular topic you would like me to address?" he asked. "I would like you to speak about God - just God," I said. That brought a big smile, being his favorite subject.

One of the many formative things he said to me happened on that visit. I picked him up at the hotel and on the drive to the church, he said, "You know, Brian, in a pluralistic world, a religion is judged by the benefits it brings to its non-adherents." That insight gestated in me for a long time, and eventually was seminal to my most recent book.

It's quite a year for losses: Richard Twiss, Gordon Cosby, now Dallas Willard ... and many others too. With each passing, those of us who remain have the responsibility to let their light glow on in our lives. And we have the opportunity to give thanks for the gift they have been to us all.

Thanks, Dallas. I doubt you were a fan of Bruce Cockburn, but this morning, this beautiful song of his is helping me savor your friendship, mentorship, and example on this day after you passed from mystery into mystery, closer to the light:

Closer to the Light from Daniel Dancer on Vimeo.