As I begin to write this, it is Sunday night, and I have just come home from being out of town all weekend. It was a refreshing time, a nice change of pace. But even on vacation, the real world was not completely shut out. During my group's breakfast at the hotel, even though we were in good spirits, we were not unaware of the T.V.s that were tuned to news channels that spoke of violence, or the Charlotte skyline that was lit up in specific colors in support of victims of that violence as we drove by at night. As a blogger, it would probably be a smart "business" move to take a political stand on a world event that has gained attention in the media because it shows violence happening where we don't want it to happen. I could write an edgy piece about how it seems that France is for our fancy vacation photos, and we as a society are particularly shocked by this tragedy because we associate acts of terror with far off, third world countries, not glamorous travel destinations. We forget that acts of evil do not conform to our social ideas, evil is everywhere and will be until the world ends. Yes, I could jump on the bandwagon and continue this rant, it would be a good flashback to my high school journalism days. This is what I would be tempted to do, had I not discovered a new role model this weekend, who taught me the importance of a more quiet response to the world and it's trouble.
To my own surprise, visiting the Billy Graham Library was one of my favorite parts of the trip I was on. I became fascinated with his wife, Ruth Bell Graham, when I picked up one of her books in the bookstore and felt like I was meeting a kindred spirit. She wrote in such a conversational way, as I aspire to do, that as I read her words, I almost feel like I am sitting down with her and having a discussion over lunch. She often wrote about staying home while her husband was away preaching all over the world, and how she felt it was her job to support him by keeping things running smoothly at home. She revealed that "Divine service will be conducted here three times daily" is a quote that hung above her kitchen sink. At first, I was disgruntled over the fact that this poor woman had to stay home and wash dishes while her husband traveled the world. She wrote that she had always dreamed of being a missionary, and my first reaction was to be sad that she never got to answer that call because she was making it possible for her husband to answer his. But as I read about her, and read some of the things she had written, I realized that she was a missionary all along. She wrote about her faith with a deep wisdom that inspires me and many other people. She never got to share her faith verbally in foreign lands, but her voice has traveled the world through her writing. Her husband spoke in a loud voice in packed arenas, as some are called to do. He stood toe to toe with doubters, with a response always ready. She stayed home, raised children, wrote poetry, and washed the dishes. It would seem at first glance that she got the short end of the stick in her marriage, and in her life.
But as I return from my weekend adventure, and come in from the cold and often cruel world that we are inhabiting, and I see my mother standing at the kitchen sink, I feel at peace because I have discovered a new truth. The world has always been a turbulent place, and always will be. But in this damaged world, there are people who quietly carry out their divine service, not by standing in a pulpit shouting King James Version scriptures, or using political platforms to cast blame on someone else, but by steadfastly continuing those mundane acts of love, no matter what. They wash their dishes as they watch the evening news, on the victorious days and the tragic ones. From their example, I have learned that it is not our job as Christians to explain away every evil thing that happens using complicated theology. We do not have to have all the answers, there is not going to be a final exam we have to pass. It is simply our job to love everyone, period, end of sentence.
God never told us to help him fix the world, but he did tell us to love everyone, even our enemies. This blog post will probably not become a viral piece of current events commentary that everyone shares all over the internet, and maybe that is a missed opportunity on my part. Maybe I am naive to provide such a simple response to the many violent things that happen in our world, but right now, I don't feel called to debate. I feel called to love.