Yesterday, it made it all the way up to 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, it's 63. One would hope that it would have baked this nasty cold out of me, but it is not so. Still have a nasty cough.
I'm taking a Jan term course this week, "Reconciliation and Transformation in a Post-Apartheid Culture" with the woman who runs the Spirals Trust in South Africa, which does a lot of work in helping people heal in that world. Difficult issues, difficult conversations. Taking this class from 6:45 to 9:45 at night is exhausting. The class is a good mix of seminary students and laity. Ages run from 24 to somewhere around 75. A diverse group in every way. It has really gotten me chewing on the differences between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is something I give someone else, because at the heart of it, it is healing for me to do that. Reconciliation is a reciprocal act, and requires the person who wounds to acknowledge their act, repent of it, and ask to reconstruct a broken relationship. It is not a quick process.
So much of what we seem to focus on these days is the quick fix in a crisis situation. We tell the little child who has struck her playmate "Tell her you're sorry." And she does, but we can tell from the tone of her voice that she doesn't mean it, doesn't understand it. I wonder if it leads to a mechanical "I'm sorry" with no heart behind it that we use for the rest of our lives.
If we can't look into ourselves and see what we have done, when we have done wrong, how can we look into the eyes of someone we've hurt and ask if it is possible to rebuild the relationship?