Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mercy, not revenge, is a key to awesome power

In his short story "The Cask of Amontillado," Poe paints a picture of icy revenge: Fortunato insults Montressor (the narrator), who seals him alive in a cellar wall. Montressor wants us to believe the homicide justified, and to admire his cleverness. He closes the story with the wish that Fortunato rest in peace.

Today's reading from the Proverbs stands in stark contrast:
A man's wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 19.11
The Bible has a lot of passages like this, probably because we need a lot of reminders (OK, a lot of correction) on this point -- at least I do.

To me, it is often easier to just avoid someone, if I don't have to see him or her regularly, than to try to work things out. I can be polite to people I've felt hurt by, sometimes even pleasant; I can wish them well. But I don't necessarily want to be around them -- probably because, if I've felt betrayed by them in the past, and if I don't sense repentance, then I don't want to trust 'em any farther than I can throw 'em. Is that overlooking the offense? Only partly, I guess.

For example, there's someone who has bitten off my wife's head a few times. This doesn't happen very often, usually. But every several years, this person seems to just get a burr somewhere, and starts saying mean and hateful things to the lovely Carol. (Whether I'm there in person -- which I've tried not to be after I witnessed it once -- or I just hear about it afterwards, I get a big stomach-ache.) After a while it stops and there is a period of relative peace. My reaction is, "Why even talk to this person?" Which I don't.

But the lovely Carol insists on wanting reconciliation with this person. She can't insist on reconciliation itself (the other would have to cooperate), but she insists on wanting reconciliation. This is but one reason that one teen said, "Mom, you're awesome." She also called Carol "high-powered."

Right on both counts.

How did it ever happen that I ended up with this awesome, high-powered woman? I sure don't know. I suppose it'll be heaven where I learn the answer.

No comments: