Neither of these two women consider themselves Christian.
In fact, after growing up in a Christian home, they have eschewed the title, the practice, the faith.
But their practice of virtue is breathtaking.
One is married to a man whose father has never been kind to her. In fact, the ugliness and inappropriate nature of his advances toward her, his lifestyle, and behavior have done anything but enrich her life.
Last week, he overdosed.
It was the smell that alerted his neighbors. When the police and the coroners arrived on scene, he had been dead many days. Things broke open when they moved the body. The apartment was a mess. A big, liquid, ghastly-smelling mess.
Her husband, stunned, went home. With family arriving the next day to remove his belongings from the apartment, this woman called cleaning service after cleaning service. The prices to clean up such a scene were in the multiple thousands of dollars, well beyond their means.
“My husband’s grandma has a bad heart,” she told me on the phone as she gathered supplies at the hardware store. “I really don’t want her to walk in there tomorrow and see all that.” So, in the middle of the night, she went alone to the apartment and cleaned up what I hope is the very worst chaos she will ever see. Then, she went home to comfort her husband.
Relatives arrived and stayed in her house. For a week, she fed them, handled the cremation, the burial, the memorial service. She even filled lockets with ashes, sifting through the urn’s contents with a care that had never been extended to her by the dust’s owner. All of this she did with kind words and not a trace of bitterness.
Her sister, learning the weight the woman carried, drove through three states in the middle of the night to stand by her side. While the husband’s family gathered, the sisters took care of one another, anticipating needs, extending support, creating a safe, comfortable environment for the grieving family. Then, without fanfare, the sister drove home again.
Of all the virtues, Faith, Hope, and Love reign. But the greatest of these is a love undeserved. A love extended to one who has no human right to expect it. A love that creates order in a place that would turn most people’s stomachs, comforts those who grieve for one who gave no kindness. A love that covers great distance and stands like a rock to support another.
That love is breathtaking.