Blogging about life at a Benedictine monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Faces of Peace
Most of us readily recognize the feeling of peace when it slips into our lives. This is often true because it arrives some time after chaos, rage, sadness or fear has been our palpable companion. This weekend I spent some time with a high school friend, Kathy, and we were chatting about everyday things. At one point she told me about watching her 11 year old grandson, Mike, play hockey. She had just arrived and was standing near the rink board and Plexiglas protective divider. Immediately in front of her was her grandson Mike with the puck near him. A much larger player came from behind and jolted Mike at his shoulders with his hockey stick, causing him to fly head first into the boards and drop to the ice unconscious (an illegal check-move resulting in immediate removal of the offender from the game). As she watched them check Mike’s eyes and ears before carrying him off the rink on a stretcher, terror and rage rose inside her. Even though she saw Mike emerge later and sit on the bench in his street clothes, appearing OK, her rage continued.
As she was exiting the arena next to Mike a woman approached her, looked her in the eyes and said, “Mother to mother, I want you to know how sorry I am for what happened to your son. It was my son who pushed him.” Kathy said she could immediately feel her rage soften. As they were speaking, this woman’s son arrived, looked Kathy in the eyes and said, “I’m so sorry for what I did.” And then he looked at Mike and repeated, “I’m so sorry for what I did to you.” By that time peace had replaced rage in Kathy and she immediately said to the boy, “I give you so much credit for coming up to us and saying you are sorry. That took lots of courage because you had no idea how we would react.”
I was again shocked at the power of forgiveness to heal the person offended and allow the face of rage to transform into the face of peace. Only forgiveness given and received can yield such an amazing transformation in both.
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