A Common Greatness
My cousin Marilyn Bevington died last week after a long illness (she did NOT have COVID-19, though therapy that would have been a benefit to her health was suspended due to the virus). I made a quick trip to Indianapolis to be present to celebrate her life at her Monday funeral.
You have never heard of Marilyn. You would not have read about her in People Magazine and she had no Twitter following. She wasn’t rich, didn’t possess a special talent or ability, wasn’t famous. Marilyn was a plain, unassuming, common, family person, yet there was an aura of greatness within her. One man said, “There was never anyone more positive than Marilyn; my enduring image of her is of laughter and love.” Marilyn had the gift of connection. She wrote notes and cards and made phone calls checking on others during the months she spent in the nursing home. Even in the midst of her long illness she had an inner peace and joy and faith that allowed her to put others first. She never complained and was always more interested in learning and caring about others rather than focusing on herself.
Marilyn’s life and death have given me pause.
Like Jesus’ first disciples, life is often lived as a competition to attain higher status, more money, and greater influence. Marilyn was great without possessing any of those things. Her child-like faith and trust in God, coupled with deep humility and love for others gave her the peace which passes understanding. Marilyn’s life exemplified the spirit of two key teachings of Jesus. I would like to be more like Marilyn and be known for joy, laughter, faith and a servant’s heart. In a time of pandemic, fear and divisiveness, people who take more joy in serving others than themselves would be a great gift! Thank-you God, for the common greatness of your servant Marilyn!
“Whoever wishes to be greatest among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20:26
“So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:4
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.