Saturday, October 26, 2013

Where There Is Injury Let Me Sow Pardon

I recently read this post onand felt I had to share it with you all.  It is so good, so Christian, so much what we all aspire to be like that I felt sure you will all benefit.  The article is taken from a chapter of a new book by Kent Nerburn called Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace.  I don't want to spoil the power of the article by saying another word. 

By Kent Nerburn

I once spoke with a man who had done hard time at a maximum security penitentiary.  I asked him what had been the single most significant lesson he had learned from being inside.  He looked at me with sad eyes and said, "You would not believe what lives inside the human heart.  There really is such a thing as evil."

I have never quite gotten over the chill that his words sent through me.  And as much as I would like to believe otherwise, the occurrences that take place in the world on a daily basis make his assertion almost impossible to deny.

What, then, are we to make of Francis's command to give pardon where there is injury?
Are we to believe that we are to forgive all manner of crimes and transgressions, no matter how monstrous?

Are we called to achieve some elevated state of spiritual enlightenment wherein we accept the evils of the world as somehow reflecting some higher divine purpose?  Or is this command of Francis's merely the blithe platitude of a man who lived unencumbered on the earth and never had to face such questions as what to do if a madman breaks into your home and murders your family?

These are questions that beset the earnest seeker who would try to walk Francis's path through a world of dark realities.  And they admit of no easy answers.  But I once had an experience that gave me insight into what some of those answers might be.

I was present in a courtroom where a young man was on trial for murdering a girl he had seen walking down the street.  He had not known her personally.  She had wronged him in no fashion whatsoever.  Here crime was simply being young and alive and in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He and a friend had dragged her into the woods, placed a gun behind her ear, and blown off the back of her head.

The prosecuting attorney described in grim detail the specifics of the murder and held up a bloody paper bag that contained the clothes of the young victim.  The horror was almost too much to bear.  Most in the courtroom averted their eyes.  But through it all the father of the murdered girl sat impassively, watching the trial, watching the boy.

After the trial was over, and the boy was found guilty, the father announced that he was going to visit that boy in jail and get to know him.

People were appalled.  Why would anyone who had suffered what this man was suffering undertake such a task?

But the father was adamant.  "That boy and I are forever bound" he said.  "We need to know each other.  I do not know if I can forgive him.  But perhaps if I know him I will not hate him.  This is about healing and reconciliation."

In that moment, the insight of Francis became clear to me. When he tells us to sow pardon, he is telling us to seek healing and reconciliation, not approval or even acceptance.  There was no way that the father of the murdered girl was ever going to give approval to the boy for what he had done.  It is not even clear that he could ever find it in his heart to accept the unthinkable event that occurred, though clearly he was trying to do so.  But he could seek to reconcile two men whose lives were forever linked through the person of a young woman and to bring forth some measure of understanding and, hopefully, creative growth in the aftermath of a horrible event.

This is a hard issue.  Most of us would not have the power to make such an effort.  I know that I do not have that greatness of spirit.  But I also know, in my heart of hearts, that the grieving father was making the correct choice.  He was trying to move the world forward from a point of horror and to turn a circumstance so dark that few can imagine it into a moment of healing and growth.

The key is in the word injury.  Francis did not say, "where there is wrongdoing, let me give pardon," or "where there have been crimes, let me offer pardon."  He said, "where there is injury, let me sow pardon."   And injury implies the possibility of healing.

Healing rises above the question of right and wrong, even good and evil.  It had to do with restoring a life to health.

If we are able to look upon pardon not just as forgiveness, but as doing what is necessary to restore health to the body or spirit, Francis's injunction suddenly seems less impossible and disconnected from our lives.  In fact, it seems like the wisest of counsel.

The father of the murdered girl cannot change what has occurred.  He may forever wonder why such an event had to take place and wrestle with a dark angel in his heart until the day he dies.  But he cannot change the fact that the event happened.

What Francis is telling us is that when such incomprehensible events occur, our goal should be to promote healing in any manner of which we are capable.  It is the only way that we can free ourselves from a frozen scream in time and fulfill our responsibilities as co-creators of meaning in this universe.

Once again, we must remember that Francis calls us only to "sow."  "Sowing" does not imply that something is fully grown, only that the seeds of possibility have been planted. Even if the father of the murdered girl cannot find the slightest possibility of forgiveness in his heart, be seeking reconciliation and healing on some level, he is sowing the seeds of the possibility of pardon and forgiveness at some future time.

Perhaps this will happen.  Perhaps it will not.  It is not up to him to say whether the seeds he plants will fall on fertile ground.  That is where faith in the goodness and mercy of God come in.  But even if he spends the remainder of his days gnashing his teeth, rending his garments, and shaking his fists at the heavens, he is leaning in the direction of hope.  He is saying that even though he doesn't understand, and can't understand, he is trying to heal. And in the intention lives the seed of a possible resolution.

There is a famous passage in the book of Exodus where Moses and Aaron ask the pharaoh to let their people leave Egypt.  Over and over the pharaoh refuses.  And each time, we are told, the pharaoh's heart was hardened.

This same hardening of the heart occurs in each of us when we do not lean in the direction of healing.  With each passing day, and each refusal to seek reconciliation, we become more callous and closed to the possibility of reconciliation.  And the wound caused by the injury becomes more and more a part of our being.

If we seek healing, it is true that the wound may still become an awful scar.  But at least life goes forward. When an injury is not allowed to heal, the wounded person dies.

This is what happens to us when we refuse to sow healing and reconciliation.  Our hearts and spirits die.  Perhaps this is what we want.  Perhaps this is our monument and testament to what we have lost.  But it is not the course that Francis would have us take.  He would have us sow the seeds of pardon, no matter how difficult that sowing might be.

Luckily, most of us, in our daily lives, are not confronted with such mortal injuries as the father who lost his daughter.  The Injuries we create, and the injuries we experience, are usually but small slights and affronts.  The labors required to begin the process of healing are not great. It is a constant measure of our humanity to rise above these injuries and to forgive those who cause them even as we forgive ourselves when we cause injury to others.

I often think of the way Dakotah Indians responded to a small wrong.  When for example, a young person walked between an elder and a fire—an act of profound impoliteness in their culture—the young person said, simply, "Mistake."  It was an honest acknowledgment of an error of judgment, devoid of any self-recrimination or self-diminution.  All present nodded in assent, and life went on.

How healthy such an attitude seems.  We all commit mistakes in judgment, and we all need forgiveness.  If we had the option of making a simple acknowledgment of our mistake and then going on with our affairs, how much clearer and gentler life would be.  And how much healthier would our own hearts be if we looked upon the injuries caused us by others as simply the mistakes of human beings who, like us, are struggling to get by in a complex and mysterious world.

Our lives brush clumsily against the lives of others.  A wrong word, a rash action—these are as much a part of our lives as the caring gesture and the loving touch.  We are all guilty of them; we all receive them.  There is no surprise when they come, issuing forth either from us against others or from others against us.  The only surprise is that we never cease to make such errors and that we have such difficulty forgiving them when they are committed against us by others.

It is our daily task in life to find a way to forgive these errors, in ourselves and in others, without ignoring or diminishing the wrong that has been done.  And if the crime is so great that we cannot find it in our hearts to offer forgiveness, at least we can make the first steps toward healing.  Perhaps, with time and the grace of God, forgiveness, too, will result.

What Francis is calling us to do is to live a life that stands for healing, however we are able to offer it.  Yes, we may confront evil in this world.  Yes, we may experience wrongs that defy our capacity for forgiveness.  But if, like the distraught father of the murdered girl, we take the first tentative steps toward healing, we are sowing the seeds of pardon.  And where the seed of pardon is planted, the flower of true forgiveness may someday bloom.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Debbie

Camille sent this picture to me yesterday and I wanted to share it with you all : a lovely picture of a lovely girl!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mysteries galore!

Some people are going to think by now that I am making this stuff up.  I'm going to prove to you (as best I can) that I'm not.

Today we continue in our proud tradition of one of the "found" mysteries — inexplicable objects, furs, postcards, letters, keys... you name it — that just "show up" around here without any apparent reason or context!

Today we have a book to show you.

A perfectly ordinary book.

Now, we buy books all the time.  Most are in French or English since these are our two languages of choice around the house.

But this book is in German.  All right, nothing so great about that, right (several of us speak German fluently)?  Yes, but it is a pretty, lavishly illustrated book of 143 pages describing in great detail some out-of-the-way corner of rural Germany, that, alas, remains entirely unknown to anyone here!

The book looks new but inside the front cover is written a cryptic sign and a date, viz :

 Lx 11.2.99

And this is the envelope used to ship it to us from the town of Idstein in Germany by DHL :


Suggestion, answers, clues, or questions in the comments section below.

(If the sender recognizes himself and his book in this post please accept our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for thinking of us in this way!  Why not drop us a line, too? :-)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nominated!

Our team is still in Paris at the Mobile IT expo 2013 but sent us this picture which says it all—looks good!  We'll have to await their return to find out a little more about the contest... and to find out who won it!


Jasmin, I should mention, is the name of our greatest and most intricate piece ofCRM software to date (CRM, another new buzz-word, stands for Customer Relations Management)).  It has taken us years to perfect and we've gained a lot of kudos locally for our work developing it.

It is a case of flat-out running just to keep up with modern computing!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Exposition



Just a note to tell you that Raphaël, Pascal, and Julie are up in Paris as participants of the Mobile IT 2013 exposition near the Porte de Versailles.

This is something they have been preparing for for a long time, with brochures, posters, and stand.  These affairs are expensive but in our business they are a necessary part of being seen and the only "advertising" we do.

Setting up and ready to go!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pressing the grapes

As I saw Raph (and little Amos) down in the chai (a wine shed, or other place above ground, used for storing casks and preparing the wine) this afternoon I told him he was doing what people have been doing for thousands of years—probably with the same equipment, too!


Raph's very pleased this time since last year was so bad it was a little discouraging.  This year we should get about three hectolitres (400 bottles) which will go a long way toward making it all worth while!

Cheers!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vendages

The week we've been waiting for has come and gone!  The time for the vendages, or grape harvest, has to be judged just right if you're going to get a good harvest and all week we've seen neighbours out in the field with their tractors so we've been praying the Lord would give us good weather until Saturday!

Well, we got our nice weather and it was "all hands on deck!" as even the littlest ones lent a hand cutting (and eating) bunches of grapes then dumping the leftovers in the grape buckets.


Friday, October 11, 2013

A picture of the children

This morning Camille, doubtless going through an old box of photos and wanting to make room for new ones, found this cute one of the children in the backyard which she thoughtfully passed around. 

In the same spirit I share it with you.  Here are Christine, and Olivier holding David circa 2004.


Tomorrow I'll see if I can duplicate that photo, updating it by eight or nine years.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Birthdays

I am running hehind with a few birthday around here but I'll get to that as soon as I can.

Today at noon as we all ate together outside the children were clowning around and soon Christine showed up dressed up.  Raph caught a picture of her and sent it around calling it "Aunty Wendy's great niece — (May or may not be removed, not quite sure)"



Not quite sure what it was that reminded us of you, Wendy, but we hope you're having a happy birthday today!

God bless you all!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Inspiring Poem

I've been receiving this email letter from an organisation called PEERS: WantToKnow.info for quite some time.  It always makes me think about life and I like it very much.  Today they sent out some inspiring poetry under the title "Inspiring Poetry Calls Us to Our Greatness".  Well, I'm not a poetry buff but love a mastery of precision and enjoyed the following poem so decided to send it on to you.

Compassion
By WingMakers

Angels must be confused by war.
Both sides praying for protection,
yet someone always gets hurt.
Someone dies.
Someone cries so deep
they lose their watery state.

Angels must be confused by war.
Who can they help?
Who can they clarify?
Whose mercy do they cast to the merciless?
No modest scream can be heard.
No stainless pain can be felt.
All is clear to angels
except in war.

When I awoke to this truth,
it was from a dream I had last night.
I saw two angels conversing in a field
of children's spirits rising like silver smoke.
The angels were fighting among themselves
about which side was right,
and which was wrong.
Who started the conflict?

Suddenly, the angels stilled themselves
like a stalled pendulum,
and they shed their compassion
to the rising smoke
of souls who bore the watermark of war.
They turned to me with those eyes
from God's library,
and all the pieces fallen
were raised in unison,
intertwined like the breath
of flames in a holy furnace.

Nothing in war comes to destruction,
but the illusion of separateness.
I heard this spoken so clearly I could only
write it down like a forged signature.
I remember the compassion,
mountainous, proportioned for the universe.
I think a tiny fleck still sticks to me,
like gossamer threads
from a spider's web.

And now, when I think of war,
I flick these threads to all the universe,
hoping they stick on others as they did me.
Knitting angels and animals
to the filamental grace of compassion.
The reticulum of our skyward home. 
For more heart-opening, inspiring poems by the WingMakers, click here. For the intriguing website of the enigmatic WingMakers as it originally appeared, click here. And for a treasure trove of other highly inspiring stories, videos, news articles, and life resources, click here.