Posted by: rongeri | November 20, 2011

A Tribute in Memory of Richard Lee Owens, Sr..PSST. “I see your brilliance”. “Sorry, I did not know it was showing.” “No, don’t hide it. Share it.”



Richard Owens went home to heaven this week. He was 106 years old. The back of the program for Mr. Owens Going Home service contained these words, written by him in 1979:


“Our morning thought concerns one of the most significant aspects of human life: Our Representative Capacity. We all have in us the power to stand for something. The way we use it, determines as hardly anything else does, our personal quality. In the first Chapter of the Book of Acts, for example, Jesus is reported to have said to his disciples: ‘Ye shall be My witnesses’. He is making a direct and definite appeal to their representative capacity, as though to say, you can be more than yourselves. You have the power to stand for high principles and worthy enterprises in your generation. Hardly, any element in you is more influential than the this power—to identify yourself with something greater than yourself so that when people think of you they think of that which is greater than yourself. I want that representative capacity on my side, you shall be my witnesses.”


This letter is part of my witness to Mr. Owens’ Representative Capacity. Mr. Owens shed a brilliant light on many lives, including my own. I would frequently sit behind him in church and we would have the kind of conversation I related at his going home service today. Though Mr. Owens had lost his sight some years ago, he still had spiritual vision and could recognize anyone by his or her voice. RWB: “Hi, Mr. Owens. This is Ron Brown.” RO:“I know who you are!” “RWB: “Mr. Owens, there are two reasons why it is a pleasure to sit behind you in church.” RO: “And what are those reason?” RWB: ” Well, when the praises go up, the blessing come down. And when you raise your hands in praise and worship, the blessings come down like a waterfall, all over you, and some of those waterfall blessings splash over onto me.” RO: “Would you like to borrow my umbrella?”( I will defer to someone who was at the going home service for Mr. Owens to relate to you the second reason I would sit behind him in church.) Another reason this letter is part of my witness to Mr. Owens Representative Capacity is that every year I would write an annual letter. I would share it with friends and family, and would always mail a copy to Mr. Owens and his daughter Myrna who would read it to him. It was a special blessing when Myrna would share with me later the delight Mr. Owens had in that letter. And so in that spirit, I dedicate this “letter” to Mr. Owens’ memory


Mr. Owens was sometimes referred to as the Black Eagle. And I have no doubt that earlier this week, there was the sound of a great wind sweeping that Great Cloud of Witnesses referred to in Hebrews. And all of those in that Great Cloud asked the dove of the Holy Spirit, what was that great wind? . And the Holy Spirit responded, Richard Owens, the Black Eagle, has come home and that was the sound of is arriving and the Lord’s arms opening to receive him.





My letter begins with links to some songs I think he would enjoy. I hope you will listen to the music at the links and say of prayer of blessing for the life of Richard Lee Owens Sr.



“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”—Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech 


Recently I asked several people that I consider to be brilliant in some way to share with me what words they associated with brilliant or brilliance. One of those persons is a brilliant daughter; another is a brilliant son-in-law; another is a brilliant young professional in Singapore; another is a brilliant coach for coaches, executives, and business teams; others are a brilliant senior at Harvard, a brilliant sophomore at Baylor, and a brilliant freshman at Dartmouth; another is a brilliant engineer and my sister in Christ; another is a brilliant work colleague; another is a brilliant educator; another is a brilliant Queens Counsel in England; another is a brilliant researcher who is also an MIT grad, cognoscenti of music ranging from opera to music sound systems (that he used to sell in Harvard Square with Acoustic Research and who can do one of the best imitations of the late James Brown); another is a brilliant retiree from AT&T; another is a brilliant educator; another is the brilliant wife of a rabbi, and others friends that I consider brilliant. Here are some of their responses


  • A brilliant mind
  • A Shining Star
  • Albert Einstein was brilliant.
  • Bright
  • Brilliant actors and musicians are those who take your breath away
  • Brilliant sun
  • Children
  • Colors
  • Creativity
  • Every so often I have a brilliant idea!
  • Extremely smart/intelligent
  • Genius
  • Glory
  • God
  • He is the most brilliant I scientist know.
  • He was almost blinded to her faults by the brilliance of his love.
  • Heaven
  • Her writing showed her brilliance
  • High-tech
  • I can’t see the moon because of the brilliance of the sun.
  • In order to be seen through the fog the light must be brilliant.
  • I saw Joshua Bell in a solo violin concert last week – his playing was brilliant!
  • Illustrious
  • Innovation
  • Intelligence
  • Leadership
  • Luminescent
  • My child is absolutely brilliant. His brilliance is only over-shadowed by the kindness in his heart and soul.
  • Radiance
  • She was a brilliant student
  • Shining
  • Smart
  • Something that draws your attention, stands out, or is strong.
  • That was a brilliant idea!
  • The brilliance of the sun’s rays was blinding.
  • The hummingbirds outside my window have brilliant neck and wing plumage.
  • The light reflecting from the chandelier has a quality of brilliance.
  • The play was brilliant.
  • The stars were brilliant last night
  • Unique
  • Unthought of before or recently
  • Very knowledgeable
  • When I hear brilliance or brilliant I think or your daughter, my mother and sunshine
  • Yellow
  • Your brilliant energy is inspiring!






I like this list. And remarkably, but not unexpectedly, none of these people associated the word with themselves, even though I do. Perhaps it is humility. Perhaps it is the way I phrased the question. And perhaps it is simply hardest for each of us to believe or recognize or express that in some way we are a shining light, someone brilliant for someone else simply because of the way we live, share, care, or touch their lives. Richard Owens was a brilliant shining light.


After I little on-line research, I found that as a noun, brilliance can be defined as follows: great brightness; luster: the brilliance of a fine diamond; excellence or distinction; conspicuous talent, mental ability, etc.; splendor, elegance, or magnificence: the brilliance of the court of Louis XIV. Optics. that luminance of a body consisting of its saturation and brightness. With further on-line research I found that in its adjective form, brilliant in Roget’s Thesaurus has these definitions: giving off or reflecting light readily or in large amounts: beamy, bright, effulgent, incandescent, irradiant, lambent, lucent, luminous, lustrous, radiant, refulgent, shiny. See
light/darkness; Extremely bright: glaring, glary. See
light/darkness. Marked by extraordinary elegance, beauty, and splendor: glorious, gorgeous, magnificent, proud, resplendent, splendid, splendorous. See
beautiful/ugly; Indicative of future success or full of promise: auspicious, benign, bright, fair, favorable, fortunate, good, propitious. See
luck/misfortune/chance. Having or showing intelligence, often of a high order: intellectual, intelligent, knowing, knowledgeable. Informal
brainy. See
ability/inability. Further on line research found that the American Heritage Dictionary gives these definitions of brilliant: Full of light; shining. See synonyms at bright; Relating to or being a hue that has a combination of high lightness and strong saturation; Sharp and clear in tone; Glorious; magnificent: the brilliant court life at Versailles; Superb; wonderful: The soloist gave a brilliant performance; Marked by unusual and impressive intellectual acuteness: a brilliant mind; a brilliant solution to the problem. See synonyms at intelligent. And finally, Wikipedia informed me that the word brilliant also refers to “a diamond or other gemstone, cut in a particular form with numerous facets so as to have exceptional brilliance. The shape resembles that of a cone and provides maximized light return through the top of the diamond.”


Regardless of the definition, here are some applications of the word that I found valuable and wanted to share.

In their book The Power of Focus: How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Certainty, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt observe:”  “When you focus most of your time and energy doing the things you are truly brilliant at, you eventually reap big rewards.  This is a fundamental truth.  And it’s critical to your future success.”


When we hear or use the word brilliant, we usually associate it with someone’s mind or intellect, and perhaps most frequently reference it to academia and kudos such as a brilliant professor, a brilliant student, etc. But brilliance comes in many forms beyond just the mental or the academic. For example, and to borrow a phrase from a former Justice of the Supreme Court, “you know it” (brilliance) “when you see it”. You can see and experience a brilliant sunrise. But brilliance is not just something you see with your eye, you can also experience with other senses.

For example, you can find brilliance in a dance troupe performance, a symphony, a string quartet, a concerto, an improvised jazz riff, Violin Diva’s rendition of the Temptation’s “Poppa Was A Rolling Stone”, a simple song, a melody, or even something as short as four trumpet notes in the CBS Sunday Morning show fanfare Morning Trumpet Fanfare A blog can be brilliant. See for example the I Dream A World blog of Kimberly (Brown) Goode. In some ways, brilliance is a gift and at its best when it is shared.

Below are some examples of things I personally consider have brilliance.

Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower in Chicago,
is an example of architectural brilliance.


In music, I find brilliance in:


I find brilliance in the painter Henry O. Tanner (whose most famous painting may be The Banjo Lesson, but whose painting of the Atlantic City seashore was the first work of an African-American artist hanging in the White House), brilliance in writers/poets such as Langston Hughes    and Maya Angelou , brilliance in photographers such as Moneta Sleet and Gordon Parks , and the brilliance in he performances of dancers in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

performing “Revelations”


I find brilliance in the preaching and teaching of the Word. And in geographic chronological order, I first want to single out a preacher from Cambridge Mass, then two preachers from Riverside Church in New York and one from Concord Baptist Church, and finally a few right here in New Jersey.


I first mention, the one and only, the late Reverend Dr.


  1. Reblogged this on Rongeri's Blog.

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