Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Parable of Forgiveness

We find many stories in the media today about forgiveness. Some of them portray the poignant reality of true forgiveness and reconciliation. Some seem only to express remorse for having been caught in a rash and careless experience.

 Here is one story of the consequences of true repentance on the part of one man. In his short story, "Capital of the World," Ernest Hemingway wrote about a father in Spain who had a son named Paco. Because of his son's rebellion, Paco and his father were estranged. The father was bitter and angry with his son and kicked him out of the home. After years of bitterness, the father's anger ended and he realized his mistake. He began to look for Paco, with no results. Finally in desperation, the father placed an advertisement in the personal columns of El Liberal of Madrid, which read: PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY ALL IS FORGIVEN PAPA. Paco is a common name in Spain and Hemingway wrote when the father arrived the next morning there were 600 young men, all named Paco, waiting and hoping to receive the forgiveness of their fathers.

 Closer to home, each of us has been hurt by the actions or words of another. These wounds can leave us with a grudge against someone, and at times, lasting feelings of anger, bitterness and even revenge. And perhaps some of us have been the one that has hurt others and we need to be forgiven. By this time in our lives we have perhaps learned that if we don't practice forgiveness, we may be the ones who pay most dearly. Perhaps we have made some small progress in recognizing that love and forgiveness are powerful forces that can transform the human condition.

 Resentment toward another person binds us to that person as with a strong steel cord. It is up to each of us to pull out that wire. Forgiveness is a choice and decision each of us must make, that does not depend on the other, but only on our desire to find deep inner peace and inner freedom.
 Paco's father eventually came to realize this and made the courageous step to forego resentment and to offer forgiveness. What a truly brave and blessed thing!

"The Capital of the World" from Ernest Hemmingway's collection of short stories: The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938)

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