I just read this passage last night before bed. It is from my Wisdom Jesus book by Cynthia Bourgeault and she’s talking about a poem that was left by a dead child’s body at the Ravensbruck death camp during “a recent era of unspeakable human darkness.” The poem is as follows:
O Lord, remember not only the men and women
Of good will, but also those of ill will.
But, do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us;
Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to
This suffering–our comradeship,
Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,
Our generosity, the greatness of heart
Which has grown out of all this, and when
They come to judgment let all the fruits
Which we have borne be their forgiveness.
Wow! Wow! Did I say wow?! Can you even wrap your mind around that? Then start to remember the Amish school girl shootings from a few years ago in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish community reached out to the perpetrator’s family and extended their forgiveness.
Out of the ashes comes unbelievable mercy. “When they come to judgment let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.”
This, I believe, is Jesus’ teachings and his legacy. It is our human nature to want to strike back. An eye for an eye. Jesus taught us a different way–a merciful way based on love. When we are harmed, what lessons do we learn if we are open to them? How do we deal with our fellow human beings–with anger, vengeance or grace, mercy, love and forgiveness? Do we take it personally or do we understand with grace and mercy (not arrogance) that the one smiting us perhaps doesn’t know any better.
Had I not gone through hardship, I could not understand any of this. I would not have borne these fruits including this blog.
What about you? What hardship have you faced that has strengthened you? I know most of this blog’s followers personally. I know some of the hurts you have weathered in your lives. Death, disease, discrimination, divorce, marriage separation, job loss, demons of addiction, illness of children…the list goes on. These tragedies, if we let them, teach us things. They can, if we let them, make us stronger. They can, if we let them, bring us closer to one another and closer to God.
“Let these fruits be their forgiveness.” Amen.