Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Pause in Lent - Humility (following the events in Toulouse)

There is so much to be said on the subject of humility, but today it's on my mind because of the events that we people of Toulouse and district have suffered over the last few weeks. Seemingly random shootings culminated in terrible deaths at a school gate, and a frightening siege which ended with the gunman's death. Family, bloggers and other friends have sent me emails, left comments and made calls - I told our pastor, who lives near the gunman's flat, that people around the world have been praying for us all - thank you so much. And please keep praying, because it isn't all over, despite the death of the killer.
Humility came to mind because of the varied reactions people have expressed about the whole situation. Politicians knew they had to be humble when faced with the death of innocents. The presidential candidates seemed dignified and human, as they put aside their squabbles and recognised that the grief of families and communities had to come first.
Once the worst was over, the politicians slipped back a little - I'm afraid it's only to be expected. But Facebook was also a bit scary, with lots of ordinary Toulousains getting pretty hot under the collar about how things should have been handled better.
The religious communities seemed to be more able to speak peace at this point. I copied the most simple, heartfelt prayer from a local French friend on my Thursday post, below. I've been looking now for some of the beautiful, noble words that were said at the time of the killings at the Jewish school - Jews and Muslims both spoke so simply and with such humanity. But here's the strange thing: the news articles where I read those words have mainly been deleted. Plenty of articles in English and French about the events and their repercussions, but the gentle thoughts of leaders and ordinary people aren't on the web any more. Humble thoughts and good news don't last as long as grouching and political analysis, perhaps.
One thing I do know is that people who spend more time forgiving the little things are better practiced at forgiving the big things. This is what the poor vicar whose family was torn apart in the vicarage attack back in the 80s said - I'll never forget it. He said something like: "Forgiveness had become a daily habit, so that when I needed to forgive this huge wrong, it still came naturally". His daughter, who was raped in the attack, has also said: "It's not whether you can or can't forgive, it's whether you will or won't". She went on: "Of course, sometimes I thought it might be quite nice to be full of hatred and revenge. But I think it creates a barrier and you're the one who gets damaged in the end. So, although it makes you vulnerable, forgiving is actually a release. I don't think I'd be here today without my Christian faith. That's what got me through."
I recognise a desire for humility and forgiveness in people responding to the Toulouse killings - of course they don't have to be Christian to value those virtues. But I also recognise in myself something that Nancy said in response to my last post: "It is so difficult to be strong; and to be stronger than darkness is only possible with The Light."


Fat Dormouse said...

God bless, Floss x

Unknown said...

Oh Floss, what a beautiful post you've written on forgiveness. You've touched my heart, and I'm sure the hearts of many others.

I'm reminded of another excellent writer who shared similar thoughts - Corrie Ten Boom - one of my heroes!

Such vital truths for all of us - in AND out of the Sandwich Generation. And so beautifully demonstrated for us by our precious Savior Jesus Christ as He prayed for His enemies for forgiveness even as He hung on the cross.

Thank you for this heart-rending and thought-provoking Pause in Lent. You're in my prayers!

Betty the Wood Fairy said...

I just left a comment over at Nancy's blog where she had quoted you - so here it is again: ...recently I decided that where I can't forgive, I can pass it over to God, who can take it off my shoulders. this attitude has been helpful and allowed me to move on where I had issues in the past. Your post reminded me that starting small is better than not at all! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. An important and beautifully written reminder at such a dark time.

Sherri B. said...

So many words of wisdom from you and others in this post. Healing comes through forgiveness...not always easy but always necessary. - I'm sure that there are millions of prayers for you all, coming from here in the USA and other places around the world. We all watched with concern for your physical and emotional safety.

You will remain in my thoughts and my prayers. xxoo

Josie Crafter said...

This is a beautiful post, Floss. We have been thinking of you and yours during this shocking, saddening time. When something so horrific happens, inevitably people question those who are in authority ... including God too. It reminds me of "The Problem of Pain", which I guess you probably know. Forgiveness is hard, yes, and it is most definitely about will. The way I see these situations is that if families who are directly involved are capable of forgiveness, then they are the people to guide the rest of us. Take care dear Floss,

Unknown said...

A good post on forgiveness, one of the hardest things to do and something I don't think we can do without God's help.