Only forgiveness echoes forgiveness

I’m sitting waiting for the revenge attack. Some months earlier I had given this person some harsh feedback. I was in pain. I allowed that pain to colour my thinking and my words. I did not take account of her ability to receive what I was saying. It was public and I could see that she was shocked and hurt. She subsequently avoided me and now, some months later it was her turn. She was in a group of people many of whom had been present when I had ‘attacked’ her and now the tables were turned. I was the one waiting for feedback. She was invited to speak – I was prepared. But not for this! She took a breath, she spoke slowly and softly. She was gracious, precise and complimentary. I was deeply humbled.

There was a group dinner that evening and as fate would have it we finished up sitting near to each other. We began to talk and to talk openly and lovingly for the first time. She was generous and joyous. I felt a deep connection and still do and I reflected on all that time lost. I was blessed that she had the grace to let go and forgive me. She gave me some of my most treasured lessons for life. My best thanks to her is not these words but my commitment to do the same – to give what she gave to me.

Could I do that if it were not just feedback but if it was a death, a kidnapping, a bombing on a monumental scale, a genocide, an indescribable pain? I don’t know is the answer. I really don’t know. I don’t believe that anyone knows. And yet that is exactly what I am wishing others in the world to be able to do. Some remarkable people find that capacity. It is therefore possible. And so I pray for peace in the world and the capacity for every human being to forgive – for the lamb to lie down with the lion. I pray for the world but above all I pray that I might find that in my own heart.

“It is necessary to stop the perverse logic of those who discriminate among the innocent victims of one side and the other, and believe their pain can be relieved from the pain of others. Only forgiveness echoes forgiveness,” Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem