Monday, October 5, 2009

Put That Stone Down

"Father, Forgive them for they know not what they do…”

Powerful words there. More powerfull the actual action behind the words:


It is said that forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.

But man, that's hard to do.

Another example; the woman at the well; What did Jesus do about a woman who had not offended him, had not committed a crime upon him, who was not involved with him at all where he was just a bystander?

He forgave her.

Powerful. Profound.

Yet so hard to obtain this forgiveness is.

With the woman at the well there is a different kind of forgiveness. Jesus forgave her and told her not to sin no more. Interesting for he was not the victim here. Yet, Jesus forgave her.

What about those who were so eager to be the first to throw their stone, the ones who felt their anger and disgust was justified?

What did these people do that had blood in their eyes and stones in hand, all ready to take a life of one they felt offend by, these people who were so ready to bash her head in? Did they welcome her back into society as a neighbor worthy of love and respect? What did they do once Jesus left?

Did they too forgive her?

Or did they hold the woman's offense over her for the rest of her life? Did they shun her? Point and talk behind her back, rub it in her face? Did they run her out of town? Did they stone her later and thus took out their judgment, anger, disgust and rage upon her once Jesus was long gone?

Did real forgiveness happen with them; the ones oh so eager to pick up their stones and be the first to throw it?

Why do some seem to hold onto hate, anger, distrust and rage when others gave forgiveness? Especially those who were not involved in the offense but are watching from afar?

All too often we hastily and flippantly judge others based on their offenses. All too often we judge others whose offenses have nothing to do with us. Yet in some cases the victim forgives and works things out with the offender. You dont hear about that kind of forgiveness and healing as much, but it does happen.

At what point do others turn the other cheek, drop their judgments and ALSO forgive the offender?

Or would it be just better to lock the offenders up, run them out of town, stone them or have them just disappear altogether?

At what point does real forgiveness take hold and healing begin?

All too often we are quick to judge and vent our disgust and anger at someone who made mistakes. We point and call them evil, worthy only of the worst punishment available. The offender may have done their time and worked hard to straighten out their lives, to make amends and better themselves. Yet many of us will not let go and hold their past offenses over them for the rest of their lives.

When it comes to forgiveness and reconciliation, well, the rage and revenge, the disgust and distrust seem to speak much too loudly. Forgiveness and healing seem all too... rarely given, or even allowed.

We all seem to have a stockpile of stones and are all too eager to use them.

Who will be the first to put down our stone and offer our hand in forgiveness.....?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Life in a Box

Many years ago Mom and I lived in a fairly rural area where towns were small and separated by sprawling farms and fields of crops. Several miles outside of town we come upon the local little roadside flea market just off the local interstate. You've seen these places before; little out of the way worn down buildings in dire need of a bulldozer overflowing with boxes loaded with broken and discarded items you couldn't unload at a yard sale. So naturally we decided to stop in. Mom went in to browse while I peered through the various piles of stuff strewn upon warped tables and benches in the parking lot. This stuff is usually things so worthless as to be left to rot and rust. Amongst the boxes and crates were the typical; chipped dishes, dinged pots, tarnished and bent silverware, old rusty tools, broken toys, weather worn books, you name it. I really didn't expect to find anything of value but hey, it's always fun to look anyways. You just never know when you will find a treasure you just gotta have.

I was about to go in to see if Mom was ready to go when I decided to search through one last box. Buried with other useless trinkets I come across a little leather bound book. I flipped idly through it thinking it was a Bible when I realized it was actually a a diary written in faded pencil by a hand that seemed to find writing a challenge. I closed it feeling a bit guilty for having intruded onto some one's innermost thoughts. I felt foolish next for obviously the owner of this little discarded diary must be long gone otherwise it would not be outside in this box left to rot out in the weather. I opened it and randomly peered at a date entered: the late 1040's. I closed it again and replaced in in the box. In it were other items that had belonged to a man; cuff links, rusty old shaver, tie clips, broken glasses. A strange feeling had me as I stood and stared at the box and its contents for a long moment.

These were the last remnants of someone's life now reduced to a few broken, discarded items in a deteriorating cardboard box left on the side of the road at flea market. This diary; normally something very precious; possibly contained his most private thoughts of achievements, hopes, dreams, memories, his entire life, now just molded and forgotten flickers left outside to rot away into oblivion.

Questions flooded my mind like a surreal waterfall. Who was he? What was his name? Where did he live? What had happened in his life? Was he a good man? A bad man? Did he marry? Did he leave behind a family? If so where are they now? Why did they discard what was left of him in this box on a table on the side of the road, abandoned like so much junk? All this ran trough my mind with no one left to answer them.

I was roused out of my trance when Mom called over; she had made her purchase and was ready to go. I left the box with its little molding diary and rusted bits of a life and we headed on down the road. But the box and the little black diary haunted my thoughts for the next full week. I felt that I should have bought it and taken it home, that doing so would give this unknown long dead man some honor in a way. Even though I would probably never read it and put it on a shelve at least the thoughts of his life would live on a little longer somehow. It seemed the least I could do. I had to return and retrieve the little diary.
So, I did.

I was too late. The little roadside flea market had closed up and cleared out. It was all gone, including the box containing the last bits of a forgotten man's life. However, the effects of that little diary had never left me.

Often I find myself observing all that is me, surveying all that I feel I am and what I have accomplished. I gaze and sift though all I own and wonder; where will it all go when I am gone? Will my once prized and precious possessions be passed down to my husband and his kids? Will they or my brothers inherit my things? Will them find my odds and ends I've accumulated throughout my life useful? Meaningful? Memorable? Will they take care of any pets I may own? Tend to the house I've spent years making into a home? Will my plants be taken care of or mowed down like so many weeds? Will any of these things be passed on? Or will they be left behind or discarded at a thrift shop as more unwanted and useless items of a life now gone? Where will all of the things and trinkets I called my own end up?
And what of my memories? I don't keep a diary. Occasional I put my ponderings on my laptop. Will these writings be cherished? Or will the files be deleted? Will all that is left of me end up on some ramshackle flea market on some forlorn country road in a box left on an old table to rot in the weather?
And, what of my future? Do I really need that big house with the wrap around porch that I've always dreamed of having someday? Do I really need a fancy car or the latest high-tech appliances? Do I really need a huge entertainment center, designer labels and accessories? Do I really need any of that stuff? When all is said and done and I am gone none of my things will matter to me. Will they matter to those I leave behind? All these questions have been on my mind for several years now. I find myself constantly reviewing my life, my goals, my needs and my intentions. Over time I've come to some few simple ways of looking at all that is me:
What am I doing now; right this moment?
Am I doing something meaningful, fulfilling and enjoyable?
Am I accomplishing something necessary and helpful?
Am I being true to myself and honest with my endeavors?
Am I being the best human being I can be?
Am I a human DO-ing? Or a human BE-ing?
Are the objects that fill my life the goal? Or just tools needed upon the way?
When all is said and done what will I leave behind memories or objects?
When all is said and done will I be content in the knowledge that I have done all I could to live a life meaningful and fulfilling to myself and others?
Am I happy?
I ponder these and many more daily. For the most part I go to bed each night feeling I have spent the day in a meaningful fashion. Some days I feel I could have done better, and some days I know could have done WAY better! But, all in all, I think I am doing the best I can with what I can. And, I suppose, that is what matters. I can only hope that the things, thoughts and memories I leave behind will be meaningful for my family and friends that have known me. My hope is that when I finally take my last breath that I will have lived well, helped much, laughed often, loved when I can to the fullest and strove to never let all that is me to one day become a discard life in a box.
To the man whose life I stumbled upon in that old diary in a cardboard box those many years ago; Thank you, sir, for BE-ing.