He is three years younger than me, this brother of mine and we share history, starting with the day of his birth when I was banished to the farthest reaches of the house, because I had measles; a rocky start to our relationship!
It's funny to think of it now, because he is 6 foot 3; but when he was small, I once chased a boy that was older and bigger than both of us, around a field, because he was picking on Robert. I had a dog leash in my hand and swung it around my head in circles as I ran after him like some medieval warrior woman.
We both know that we will always be there for each other and I can count on him to tell me the truth on any question.
Robert doesn't put anyone's faith down, but "spirituality" doesn't factor as much in his life as in mine. He rarely talks about God and I'm not really sure what he thinks about him. I've done a lot of thinking about that of late.
He is the main carer for our mum, along with a small flock of ladies from Helping Hands. While I was with them for two weeks in May, I watched...
Mum's toes grow close and tight together, some of them overlapping; and when she has her weekly shower, the ladies who care for her don't pay attention to her feet. So each week, Robert washes Mum's feet.
One day I watched him doing this, kneeling down in front of her, carefully washing one foot at a time, then drying them gently with a towel and massaging them with heavy duty moisturizer.
His reminded me of another washer of feet--one I claim to follow but don't always represent as visibly.
I recently heard someone at work speak on 1 John 1:1, describing the verse as being about a "tactile presentation of the gospel."
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
My work friend said that when we say, "I shared 'the gospel' with my friend today," we usually mean that we shared verbally. He said, in fact, everything that we do is gospel because Christ changes what we do and how we do things. Or he should.
I found myself thinking about how I have represented Christ to my brother. Not always very well, I concluded.
I have been headstrong, proud and arrogant; easily irritated and unappreciative of who he is.
This year I saw him through different eyes. I saw his humility, love and tenderness as he cared for our mum.
I've always liked the maxim attributed to St. Francis of Assisi "Preach the gospel. And if necessary, use words."
We need to be prepared to share God's Word with people who are curious and hungry to know him, but preaching the gospel may have as much to do with gentleness of heart and grace of life, as the words we loudly proclaim.