Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. I’m spending it in the Middle East. And as the day approaches I am mentally and emotionally bombarded with living examples of love and hatred.
The church service we may decide to attend regularly meets on Saturday morning–the Shabbat. There are many reasons for this, and I understand some people back home have a hard time coping with the idea. But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because we had a potluck outside on the front lawn after the service was over. As we ate and talked, an Orthodox Jewish man (alone) walked down the sidewalk outside our gate, and shouted at us as he walked “Shabbat is only for the Jews! Shabbat is only for the Jews!” Our huge crowd sat in silence as he passed, looked around at each other, then slowly continued to eat and talk without responding to him. An act of hatred to speak. An act of love not to speak.
At first I was inwardly rattled by this. I’ve faced religious intolerance before, but never an open statement of hatred like this. Not that the man said anything incredibly horrible–it was more the principle of the action than the words themselves. Throughout the day I mulled this event over in my mind and kept coming back to the same thing:
A tired love.
I’ve learned a Kurdish idiom since I arrived here. One mother who recently went back home to Iraq with her healthy daughter said before she left, ” You never shorted us on anything. You were tired for us.” It’s taken me some time to come to a full understanding of the meaning, because it’s multi-faceted. But to be tired for someone, essentially means to love someone so fully it comes out repeatedly in your actions, to the point of wearing you out. Serving and loving to the point of being tired.
The essence of Shevet Achim is not heart surgeries for children. The essence of Shevet Achim is not being “professional do-gooders.” The essence of Shevet Achim is not discipleship. The essence of Shevet Achim is loving your neighbor. The Samaritan man was hated and persecuted by the Jews. He had every right to hate and abandon the dying, mugged Jewish man on the side of the road. But he loved his neighbor in the face of hatred. A man massacres a group of Amish children before committing suicide and the Amish parents attend his funeral. Love in the face of hatred. A tired love. A tired love is the only kind of love that can overcome hatred. A random act of courtesy will not.
Jesus loved in a tired way.