It has been my good fortune to meet a man from Moldova, named George. His English is certainly not as fluent as his Romanian, but we communicate on some levels more deeply than those around us that speak English as a first language because we intentionally communicate.
As it turns out, some of George’s children went to elementary school with my son. I have heard tales of George, while visiting his kids for lunch, buying Carter an ice cream. Through field days and my visits to the school, I got to know his children and returned the favor. Carter fell, as did I, madly in love with George’s family. My wife’s mother, upon my first meeting George, baked him a loaf of bread and in return, George’s wife sends me, from time to time, this treat or another for me to try.
I gather from some of our conversations that George has a passion for the Divine and that he might be more conservative than I am. From time to time, he sends me a link to a video of some preacher that I would not normally seek out. From time to time he will quote a verse in the Bible or admonish me that some holiday, though celebrated by mainstream Christianity, is not of God. And for every year I have known him, he has invited me to his church.
For the most part, I stay clear of public displays of worship, but last Saturday, he invited me to a baptismal service at a nearby lake. Carter wanted to go and play with his friends, so we headed out to the dam. When I arrived, there were several people gathered, all dressed much better than Carter and me. They were listening to a preacher, singers, musicians, all in a language unbeknownst to me. I stood there listening when a young woman asked, “Do you know Romanian?”
I replied “No”.
She asked, “Would you like an interpreter?”
I replied “No”.
Truth be told, I listen to Hindu songs and mantras that I do not know or “understand”. I listen to readings of Scriptures and hymns from religions and in languages I do not understand. Truth be told, even when I go to a mainline Protestant service, the buzz words and the phrases they use baffle me. And truth be told, I am not there to hear the preacher or the musicians in the first place. Perhaps languages, like Deepak Chopra once said, are from the same root and have the same power, whether we recognize the meaning or not. Perhaps. But may I tell you about when Jesus showed up to this service?
I was standing in the sun sweating and thinking of more lofty things than I normally do. I enjoyed it. It was a great place to be at the right moment in my life. It was, though, hot and seemed to run longer than anticipated. I had not noticed that George had left my side until I felt a tap on my shoulder. George began poking my arm with a bottle of water and said, “For you. We have”.
In this moment I realized. The Creator does not speak English or Romanian. He does not even, contrary to what I was taught by my Hebrew professor, speak Hebrew. There is a language spoken by The Divine that only our hearts can comprehend. Language is like using a screwdriver used to build a home. The screwdriver is not the home where we live, but it was one of many useful tools which helped us provide shelter. Whichever language we use, it is only a tool to help us live in the light of Love. It is only a tool. That bottle of water to me was the Gospel.
I have heard it said that the world is lost and dying. I also say the same thing about my car keys and the flowers just passed my porch. With effort I always seem to find my car keys and each spring those flowers are raised back to life. We are not opposed to the world, we are from the world and in the world. If our thoughts are so heavy and we think ourselves so close to heavenly things that we do not see the kingdom in any part of this life, we have missed the point. If we think that the kingdom is somewhere waiting after a time, and not, in the words of Van Halen, “Right Now”, we have entirely looked over what confronts us as if it were the face of God before us. Some say “May we have ears to hear”. I might say, “May we hear without using ears at all”.