Easter means so many things to so many people. Besides the religious aspect, there are Easter egg hunts, family dinners, and unique traditions.
For me, Easter just doesn't seem like Easter until I see "Lillies of the Field" starring my favorite actor, Sidney Poitier. Poitier skillfully portrays an itinerant handyman who, in his travels, comes upon a group of German nuns in the Arizona desert. These nuns believe Poitier's character, Homer Smith, was sent by God to build them a chapel. And maybe he was. Poitier won the Academy Award for best actor, a first by a black man at that time, and it was well-deserved. Even though he didn't do his own singing in the film (the voice dubbed was Jester Hairson, who you might remember as Rollie in, ironically, "Amen"), Poitier captured the fire and determination of a man on a mission. That is, once the nuns convinced him of that mission. And, indeed, he built them a chapel. Here's the signature song from that movie, and I can't think of a more fitting one for Easter.
I woke up with another song in my head this morning, but it is also connected to Poitier. It is "To Sir, With Love" by Lulu, from another of Poitier's beloved movies of the same name. Some of us, if we are very lucky, have a teacher like the one portrayed by Poitier, one who makes a real difference in our life, one who "takes you from crayons to perfume". I have been thinking of my certain "Sir" a lot lately, and feel nothing but gratitude. This song always brings me to tears. I have it here as another Easter gift to you.
Sidney Poitier is an extraordinary actor and gentleman who has filled my life with sweet wonder in some of my favorite movies: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", "A Raisin in the Sun", "The Defiant Ones", and "Blackboard Jungle". His autobiography, "The Measure of a Man" sits upon my shelf in a place of honor, befitting a man upon whom many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, have been bestowed.
To me, the measure of a man is simply this: the magnitude of the immeasurable impact one man has had upon the world. Mr. Poitier stands tall, now and forever.
Happy Easter, everyone.