18: Rosanne Cash

18: Rosanne Cash

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me

• 18 •

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, author, daughter of Johnny Cash

Billy Graham was a very good friend of my father, Johnny Cash, and my stepmother, June Carter Cash. I first met Billy when he and Ruth visited my dad and June at their house in Jamaica. They were frequent visitors, and June christened one of the bedrooms “The Billy Graham Room.” It was at the back of the house, with two beds and beautiful windows, and nobody ever stayed in that room without June saying, “Well, this is The Billy Graham Room.”

I found Dr. Graham to be the most tolerant, nonjudgmental person of anyone that I’ve ever met. He was extremely kind, and he had what you would consider true Christian qualities of being openhearted, and loving. I always appreciated that in him. I never heard him say an unkind word about anything.

One time, my dad was playing in Las Vegas, and Billy and Ruth were there for a ministry event. It was kind of adorable because they just observed all the goings-on at the casinos with equanimity. They never judged it for a second. My stepsister Rosie and I were fifteen and eighteen — too young to gamble — but my father would give us money to go anyway, and then he’d pretend that he didn’t know what we were going to do. Rosie and I would get all dressed up to go to the casino, and Billy and Ruth just giggled at us so tolerantly. It was very sweet.

My father’s spiritual life did not fit into any religion. He had a lot more mysticism in him than fundamentalism. He and Dr. Graham had many discussions about theology and divinity, and I’m sure they spoke about the differences in their beliefs. My dad was a historian. He read Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, as well as books about Christianity, from its early beginnings up to contemporary times. But regardless of their views about history and doctrine, where Billy and my father came together was through love — just a basic sense that love is the true Christian value.

Ruth was the same way, and she was just a doll. Ruth and Billy knew how to have fun — they weren’t all about religion all the time. Billy was probably more singular in that way. I think it was just in the forefront of his thoughts all the time. But Ruth would go shopping with June and sit by the pool and play. They had a lot of fun together.

Like Billy, Ruth was just beautiful — openhearted, kind, and loving. You know, even if other Christians around her would say something judgmental about someone — she wouldn’t join in. I never saw either one of them do anything negative at all. I wish more so-called Christians would pay attention to the way they lived.

I was in my teens and early twenties when I spent time with the Grahams. I thought they were a standard for what Christians should be. Getting to know them made me relax a little bit about religion, I think. I had been raised Catholic, but then I purposely left the Catholic Church and tried a lot of things. Although I don’t ally myself with any specific religion, I was always a spiritual seeker, and I still am. And if Billy and Ruth represent Christianity, then I respect that. Billy didn’t use fear to manipulate people, which happens a lot. I think people felt safe with him. They feel that he has some kind of divine connection, and that his essence is love and compassion. I think they are right.

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