Saturday, August 18, 2007

Billy Graham, Bono, and Mary

I’m struck today by three incredible examples of humanity – Billy Graham, Bono, and a woman who calls us every week named Mary.

While picking up some breakfast food at the market, I see the latest Time Magazine with a cover story on Billy Graham. I was struck as I read the story about some of the doubts this evangelist has wrestled with and some of the mistakes he has fumbled through over the years.

I have an incredible amount of respect for Billy Graham, and I don’t think anyone can argue with the assertion that he has had a profound and lasting impact on the world.

After breakfast, I check the mail and a kind soul had sent me a couple of U2 DVDs (Thank you, Denise, you're the best) – so my daughter and I sat down to watch U2’s concert from Sydney, Australia filmed back in November of 1993. I started to explain to my daughter about the evolution of U2 when something struck me – like Billy Graham, these guys from Dublin have been pretty transparent about their searching, their doubts, and their mistakes.

The thing that hit me is something I think we all intuitively know, but just need to be reminded about from time to time – you only have a lasting impact on the world if you’re willing to take some risks, willing to make mistakes, and willing to be as transparent as possible in the process.

As Kelsey and I were watching Bono singing on the screen, our phone rang and Kelsey answered. It was Mary, and Mary asked Kelsey to hang up so she could call back and leave her message.

You see, our family has only met Mary a couple of times – she attends one of the local churches, she’s getting up there in years, she has a bad case of arthritis, and she can barely see. But Mary does something special. Every week, Mary calls a list of people, waits for their answering machines to pick up, then reads a verse of scripture, offers words of encouragement, and sometimes sings a song. I get a lot out of Mary’s messages.

Mary puts many of us to shame – I know none of us are gifted orators like Billy Graham or international rock stars like Bono, so we think that gets us off the hook for trying to make a difference in the world. But then there’s Mary, she doesn’t have her health, she doesn’t have her sight, all she has is who she is – and she’s willing to put that out there!

By the way, the second paragraph of the Time cover story on Billy Graham contains this line in describing the various people who have visited the Graham family in their home over the years:

“Bono once showed up and played songs on the piano in the living room”

And the song my daughter and I were listening to Bono singing when Mary called –

Love is Blindness.”
May all of us follow the examples of these individuals.


Denise Saxon said...

You are very welcome!

Anonymous said...

Mary sounds like quite a lady.

greylias said...

hey, can you give mary my number?

great post bro.

Anonymous said...

I know it was Bob Dylan who originally sang it, but U2 (Bono) repeated the line:

"All I have is a red guitar, three chords, and the truth."

It sounds like you're saying all of us should have that kind of attitude.