I say forgive–and then forget
but I aint learned to do it yet
you’d think I’d know by now . . .

I know just how to hurt someone
been on both sides of that gun–
pulled the trigger anyhow . . .

-Bob Carlisle

I will never fail to be astounded by the amount of grace and mercy I have been shown in my life.  I guess anyone can potentially say “I should be dead, but I’m not,” without qualification.  Once upon a time, those kinds of statements set one apart from the others, or at least provided a contrast from the norm.

Today, nothing is shocking.  And while I can say unequivocally that the above statement applies to me, it literally means nothing to an outside world preoccupied with death, reality television, egocentric grandstanding, and the narcissistic ratings race between the Kardashians and their step-dad’s gender-chronicles.

Yet, a small and narrowing circle of people in a an equally small Louisiana parish know for a fact–if not for the grace of God, I’d be dead–NOW.

That will be left for the winds to remember.

But how easy we forget.  How easy, the Silent Hand that stops us from falling is slapped away in impetuous haste.  How little time must really pass before the God that brought us through the flood is blamed for the humidity.

Sometimes, the avatar for forgiveness comes in the form of people who wouldn’t agree with me in the least about the theological terms I might invoke.  Sometimes, it is the one farthest away from church–as it were–that demonstrates the most extraordinary grace–a statement that in no way indicts the church as hypocritical–but sometimes, it seems the contrast in stark reality is only really brought to bear by those who can do NOTHING for us.

Two weeks ago the following verse erupted out of my mouth and guitar–and addition to a song I thought was complete nearly two years ago:

You call me friend
even when I fail
though I betrayed you with a brother’s kiss
and drove the nails

and here you stand
to hear my plea
to release me from my darkest chains
and set me free

It’s been said that not only are we made in God’s image, but really, much of our legal structure in any organized society reflects some form of governmental hierarchy in Heaven.

I mean, did we decide on the matrix of “weighing truth in the balance,” or are we reacting to an eternal echo placed in us?  Does the idea of kings and princes come as some kind of biological synapse from a brain borne of evolutionary time, matter, chance, and apparently a flagrant violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?  Or are we projecting towards a perfect day we know will one day arrive?

Thus, the idea that God became a man makes all the sense in the world to me; thirty-three years of temptation, trials, tribulations.  He knew the end from the beginning.  He was fully aware of the ruse, the setup, the cowardice, and the political maneuvering that would eventually nail him to a tree.

In the end, he will judge ME–not as a far-away, distant and arrogant judge in the anterooms of vaunted halls.

But as one of my peers.  He WAS one of us.

And sometimes, I see him in the forgiveness of others that don’t even know him like I do.  That–is when I know this thing called “the breath of life” is no accident.

And neither is anything else.

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2 Responses to Forgiveness

  1. Ann Ahrens says:

    BEAUTIFUL!!! I admit I’m a Downton Abbey fan, and must point out a scene that depicted the most beautiful act of forgiveness and reconciliation I’ve ever seen. The character Mrs. Baxter got her job at Downton through a recommendation from another employee, Thomas Barrow. Thomas is a closeted homosexual who is devious, deceptive and downright mean at times. He knows of a dark time in Baxter’s life and uses his knowledge of it as leverage to control and manipulate Baxter. Thomas becomes ill due to injections he is giving himself which will supposedly cure his homosexuality. Baxter catches on to this and immediately insists on accompanying him to the doctor. In spite of the shameful fact of his homosexuality, she is willing to associate herself with him so that he might get the medical attention he needs. She doesn’t hold against him all the misery he has caused in her life by using and abusing her to get information about the family “upstairs.” I wept when I saw that scene. As a result of Baxter’s kindness, Thomas is changed and begins to act and react from a place of kindness and compassion as well. It reminds me of a line from my favorite book, “Tattoos on the Heart” by Gregory Boyle. Boyle writes, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals.” To sin, to fall, to be forgiven, and THEN to show compassion to those like us – the most Christ-like act we could ever engage in.


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