"He had never felt that ministry--or God--was about making things happy. He'd long felt that the heart of ministry--and the heart of God--is about making things beautiful, even when they can't be happy."
~~ from Living Without Enemies: Being Present in the Midst of Violence by Samuel Wells and Marcia A. Owen
I just started reading Living Without Enemies last night. Its authors are people I know--Sam Wells is the Dean of Duke Chapel, where I attend church, and Marcia Owen is the director of The Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham, a group that seeks to end violence in our community. Once, a few years ago, I stood on a street corner downtown with Marcia and another woman, praying for peace in our city. It was one of the strangest things I've ever done, but I was glad I did it.
The funny thing is, when you do something like pray on the corner of a busy intersection or fix lunch in a soup kitchen, you feel good, but not the way people think you do. You don't feel good because you think you're this great, altruistic human being. Your feelings aren't about yourself at all. You feel good because for thirty minutes or an hour, you lived your life in the kingdom of God, right here on this earth, and you were actually paying enough attention to realize it.
I continue to feel unconcerned for my children's happiness. This came in handy today when I dropped Jack off at the chapel so he could put in a day's work with his youth group, a day which began at the St. Joseph's community garden downtown, followed by lunch--prepared by the youth--with the homeless gentleman who congregate there, and then more community service this afternoon. Tomorrow, more of the same, all of it in blistering hot weather.
The worst part of it all? I wouldn't let him take a book.
And while I don't care in the least whether or not he's happy today, deep down in my heart, I hope he is.
ETA: Just picked Jack up from St. Joseph's. He was hot, sweaty and complaining mightily about having spent the morning gardening in the heat. And he spent the whole trip home chatting away about the day's activities. In short, I think he had a great time.
As of today, I've been blogging for four years and two days. I am ever thankful and grateful for the community I've found myself a part of and the friendships I've made. Whenever I get cranky about the role of technology in our lives, I remember that the all-consuming Internet has brought into my life all sorts of wonderful people I'd probably not cross paths with in the regular course of events, and in that way modern technology has been a blessing to me. As have you.
6 hours ago