It would be quite easy to conclude that the whole world is going to wreck and ruin. About the worst thing to do is to watch the news at the moment – it isn’t exactly filled with good news just now – although if you sift through it carefully, there are one or two things that might gently warm the heart. That’s generally the way of things.
Amongst the stories, I found a really beautiful one. A young woman had spent most of her life without her father, who had been brutally murdered years before. As time went on, she made a decision concerning the man who had killed her father. She explains it this way –
“It started as a revenge in some ways, because I thought to myself, ‘Every time I think of this man it’s like he controls me, I get these panic attacks. It’s like I’m not in control of my own emotions.’ I was like: ‘No, he already killed my father and now he’s killing me too.’ So for me, forgiveness wasn’t so much something I could just think about doing, it was something that was crucial for me.”
And forgive him she did, finding the forgiveness to be liberating – for herself, initially.
Several years later, the woman and her mother were invited to take part in a scheme which involved meeting the man repsonsible. She didn’t need to conisder the proposal; she agreed.
Sitting there with this man, the young woman said she had already forgiven him, and then she asked if he had forgiven himself. She said later –
“He was noticeably taken aback for the first time in the whole encounter and he said, ‘Every time a family comes here, that’s one question I pray they never ask me’. He looked away and he dabbed the side of his eye, because a tear had run down… and he looked back and said, ‘When you’ve done the things I’ve done, how do you forgive yourself?'”
A few minutes later, these two people linked by a terrible event, stood up and hugged one another. And then the man said to the daugher whose father he had killed –
“I’m so sorry for what I’ve done, and your father would have been so proud of the woman you’ve become.”
Shakespeare once wrote that the quality of mercy is never strained – that it falls like rain from Heaven and is doubly blessed, blessing the one who gives it and the one who receives it.
It would seem that he was right.
Perhaps, then, there is still plenty of goodness in the world – despite what the news might suggest to us. We just neeed to go looking for it.