Why else do we live?

I have been beyond impressed by Cry, The Beloved Country. While I enjoyed Things Fall Apart, Achebe does not write with the same passion as Paton. The richness of the plot in Cry, the language, the pace, the emotion all make this a most enjoyable summer read. At the same time, I have been listening to the much recommended The Shack. No comparison. The difference between the writing and theology in Cry compared to Shack is like the difference between a seminary class and a VBS. (I am only two hours into the eight hour recording, and I plan on posting about it soon.)

On to what moved me today:

Kumalo has returned from another journey to see his son’s girlfriend with the intention of taking her back to Ndotsheni. It has been a hard week, and Kumalo has been at the mercy and care of others many times. He seeks to impose again on the woman with which he and his sister are staying. 

…I do not like to trouble you mother.

—You would like to bring her here, umfundisi?

—Indeed, that would be a great kindness.

—I will take her, said Mrs. Lithebe. She can sleep in the room where we eat. But I have no bed for her.

—That would not matter. It is better for her to sleep on the floor of a decent house, than to…

—Indeed, indeed.

—Mother, I am grateful. Indeed you are a mother to me.

—Why else do we live? she said.

And I stopped reading, and for a few moments could go no further. 

Why else do we live?

Why do I live? For myself? Often—too often. Mrs. Lithebe chose to serve. She chose to take in another when she had no room. Another who could not pay. Another for who knows how long—until the umfundisi left Johannesburg and returned to his parish. until the trial for his son, the murderer, concluded. 

And I must take my eyes off myself. I must open my eyes to the needs around me, starting with my wife and children. I am too important to myself. And I have not been called by God to be important. I have been called to serve. Why else do I live?


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