Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Forgiveness? Reconciliation?

John Shea writes:

There is a long-suffering lady
with thin hands
who stands on the corner of Delphia and Lawrence
and forgives you.
"You are forgiven," she smiles.
The neighborhood is embarrassed.
It is sure it has done nothing wrong
yet everyday, in a small voice
it is forgiven.
On the way to the Jewel Food Store
housewives pass her with hard looks
then whisper in the cereal section.
Stan Dumke asked her right out
what she was up to
and she forgave him.
A group who care about the neighborhood
agree that if she was old it would be harmless
or if she was religious it would be understandable
but as it is...they asked her to move on.
Like all things with eternal purposes
she stayed.
And she was informed upon.
On a most unforgiving day of snow and slush
while she was reconciling a reluctant passerby
the State People
whose business is sanity,
persuaded her into a car.
She is gone.
We are reduced to forgetting.
"Prayer for the Lady Who Forgave Us"

Blanket forgiveness without repentance? I'm not sure about it.

But there is something very beautiful in the woman's assumption that we all need forgiveness. And there's something very true in all the passerby's assumptions that each one of them is the only one who doesn't.

I wonder what happens in worship when I pronounce forgiveness of sins. Do we feel that? Do we know we need it? Does it leave a pathway open for reconciliation? Or does it just make us upset?

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