Some Kind of Lesson: Forgiveness

Sam forgot to close the window before he fell asleep reading a magazine about Alzheimers, so he woke up at 3:30am to a cool breeze and a whisper from the curtains. He was warm under his sheets, though, so he smiled and let the wind carry him back to sleep as the breeze rolled across his face and turned the pages of the magazine on his nightstand.

6:00am showed up quickly and without any care for introduction. As Sam’s hand reached across the sheets, he bumped off his glasses from his bed. Accidentally forgotten from last night, they fell off, and he heard a loud clang as they plummeted to the ground. He paused for a brief, painful moment before finally attending to his alarm and putting on NPR.

“Welcome to Lessons, a new NPR: Morning Edition special. This morning, we have Larry Mintfrost from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania coming to talk to us about Forgiveness. How are you doing this morning, Larry?”

“I’m doing just fine, Josephine, thanks so much for having me.” Larry yawned before finish his thanks. Sam answered with a yawn of his own, and with a dutiful rubbing of both of his closed eyes.

“So, Larry, what do you know about Forgiveness?” Josephine used her words with a grace matched only by the quiet morning.

“Well, Hell. I suppose I know one or two things, but no more than three.”

They laughed, and Sam chuckled to himself as he made his way around his bed to pick up his glasses.

“It seems to me that there are two sides to Forgiveness, with a lesson on each end. For one, asking for Forgiveness from someone that you have wronged. And two, giving Forgiveness to someone who has wronged you. And then there’s the whole deal with learning how to Forgive yourself. That last one is a little bit of both, I guess.”

“Which do you think is the hardest?” There was a long pause after that question, and Sam found himself lost in thought, standing next to his unmade bed cradling his broken glasses.

“Well, I guess sometimes it’s tougher to ask for forgiveness. See, hurtin’ people comes with its own kind of pain. It has some wind in its sail. Some regret. I’ve made some mistakes in the past where I accidentally hurt some people I care a whole lot about. Learning how to admit to your mistakes and ask for Forgiveness is real tough. Ya see, you don’t have any control in this case. You can’t force someone to forgive ya, you just gotta hope that they are a gentle soul with good in their Heart.”

“What happens if they don’t give Forgive you?” Sam was sitting now, still holding his glasses and looking towards the window with a distant eyes.

“I’ve found that if you are truly sorry, really truly sorry about what you’ve done, and you’ve learned from your mistakes, it makes that outcome a bit easier. Some people don’t know what its like to accidentally hurt those you care about, and if they did, they wouldn’t be so prideful.”

“So it sounds like you’ve done a lot of asking for Forgiveness. Tell us a bit about what it’s like to give Forgiveness.”

“Shit, well that’s easy as pie. Once you’ve been on the other end, and you know the pain of a soul looking to apologize, giving Forgiveness is easy. Well, I shouldn’t say that so quickly.” Larry sort of laughed to himself, and he continued. “There ain’t nothing easy about it, really, but what I’m trying to say is that you become more willing to give Forgiveness to those who have hurt ya once you’ve been on the other side. There’s no use in having people all tied up with hurt emotions if they can find some ground for kindness.”

“I see, I see. Now, what is after Forgiveness?”

“It depends on which end you’re on. If you are the one giving it, the ball is sort of in your court, so to speak. But if you are the one looking up toward another for their Forgiveness, and they are gracious enough to accept your apology, I’d bet that it’s up to them. It can go millions of ways after that. What’s more, Forgiveness doesn’t seem to me to be something you etch on a stone. It comes in and out. There have been some people that I have really struggled to Forgive, ’cause of what they’ve done to me, and after I Forgive them I kinda doubt myself. Did I really mean that? Do I really Forgive you? It’s real weird.”

“And Forgiving yourself?”

“My oh my, if that ain’t complicated…” Sam was standing near the window now, and his reflection came into focus while Larry thought of his response. “This one’s kinda tricky. ‘Cause when it all comes down to it, we are all looking for Peace. It don’t matter if you are the nicest person in the world. If you can’t learn to Forgive yourself you will never find a quiet place in your mind.”

Sam’s breath fogged the window. Long moments of In. And out. In. And out. The rest of the conversation faded into the background as he thought, and watched, and breathed.

“… and I guess I’ve still got a whole lot to learn. It’s not somethin’ you just get a book on, ya know?”

“Well said, Larry. Thank you so much for joining us this morning!”

“It was my pleasure Josie, thanks for having me.”

“This has been Lessons, NPR: Morning Edition’s newest series. Tomorrow we will be talking about regret, so be sure to tune in. I’m Josephine Forgetmenot, hope you’ll join me next time.”

Sam snapped out of his trance, looked down at his glasses, and sighed. He set them on his nightstand in the crease of his magazine, and began to timidly make his bed with blind eyes.

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