I don’t often stop to read obituaries any more – lack of a newspaper subscription puts a crimp in that – but there was one this past week that caught my eye, and quickly my attention: the British newspaper The Telegraph’s obituary of Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld of France. Here’s the lede:
Count Robert de La Rochefoucauld, who has died aged 88, escaped from Occupied France to join the Special Operations Executive (SOE); parachuted back on sabotage missions, he twice faced execution, only to escape on both occasions, once dressed as a Nazi guard.
The Telegraph’s account of his life adventures reads like an adventure novel. Raised in French aristocracy. As a boy he met Hitler. During WWII he joined the French resistance, then escaped to Britain and joined the British Special Operations Executive. Parachuted behind enemy lines into France. Escaped captivity twice, once by faking an epileptic fit, killing the guard who came in to check on him, and then walking out of the prison wearing the dead guard’s uniform.
“Audacity” doesn’t even really begin to capture the spirit of Count de La Rochefoucauld’s life. Even as an old man it seems he continued this way. In 1997, when an old war ally was convicted of crimes related to deporting Jews during WWII – a conviction that de La Rochefoucauld believed to be in error – de La Rochefoucauld gave the friend his passport so he could escape to Switzerland.
When I read this obituary it immediately put me in mind of David’s mighty men in 2 Samuel 23 – including Benaiah:
Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. (2 Sam 23:20-21)
I’ve gotta admit – it’s just particularly awesome to know that we live in a modern day where there are still people with the audacity and courage to perform feats like these when it becomes necessary. In the adventure of life, we can all take some inspiration from l’audace of Robert de La Rochefoucauld.