Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Cultivating Kingdom Behavior

On my monotonous drive home each day after work, I'm comforted by my car radio. The only problem is I have to drive with the windows down, for without AC I could easily melt. The volume knob on my radio is usually at half full blast so I can hear past the roaring sounds of traffic and passerbys. Yesterday I listened to NPR most of the way home. I usually don't do this mostly because public radio announcers have a calming voice and even though my windows are down and it is quite noisy outside of my metal moving box, I can doze off to their librarian "inside" voices. During their program All Things Considered, I listened to a commentary by Anisa Mehdi on the late Algerian Trappist monk Christian de Cherge.

In case you are unfamiliar with the monk like I was, let me give you a short background on this godly man. Christian grew up in Algeria to a French military family who were Christian colonizers. Following in his father's footsteps, Christian became a soldier in the Algerian army. Once there he met a Muslim policeman named Mohammed. Even though they quite different, they soon became friends and would take long walks discussing life, politics, and theology. One day Mohammed saved Christian's life by stepping between Algerian rebels and his friend. Although they let both men pass, Mohammed was found dead the next day. Mohammed's death changed Christian's life forever. From that time on Christian became a Trappist monk in the Altas Mountains and strove to dedicate his life to God and peace.

After the death of his beloved friend, Christian wanted to continue to dialogue with Muslims. He would invite Muslims to the monastery not to cultivate Christians, but to cultivate honey, fruit, and friendships. They each tried to sow understanding of God's will and create a model of behavior of the Kingdom of God. They didn't have to believe each other's theology; they just needed to uphold the essentials of their ideals: show mercy, be just, give charity, love one another and love God. In the words of Christian de Cherge, "May God's secret joy be brought forth by our common humanity amid our differences."