By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Now, may the peace that surpasses all understanding be yours

 


In church on Sunday, Pastor reminded us that, although this is a joyous season and we should celebrate, it is also a season of repentance and forgiveness.

Who wants to think about past digressions and apologizing when there are gifts to be bought, wrapped and given. Parties to attend and food to eat.

Oh, the food.

But this is not about the frosted cookies of life. This is about the spinach. The green beans and brussels sprouts of life.

Some may like the taste of spinach, but I would be willing to bet my lone Christmas present that they don’t eat spinach for the taste.

It is good for you.

Forgiveness and repentance are good for you, too. Maybe not fun at Christmas time, however, they might be needed when the entire family gets thrown together under one roof.

It is a fact of life that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone needs to apologize for something, whether it is forgetting to take out the garbage, again, or putting raisins in a dish for someone who hates raisins.

Nelson Mandela made many mistakes in life, but always said, “If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man.”

He died last week at the age of 95, after many mistakes, much apologizing and more than 250 awards for his work in helping the world to know that everyone is equal. No matter how many mistakes they make or how different they look.

In his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” Mandela wrote, “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”


Mandela was a man who ate his spinach well. And he probably prepared a few dishes of it for others seasoned with his gentle words of wisdom and enternal optimism that this is how it is supposed to be.

I have an ongoing digression that I can’t seem to let go. I can’t forgive, nor can I repent enough to let go of the guilt.

No matter how much peace and love and understanding is offered, I still can’t seem to find my way to reconciliation whatever form it comes in.

I think Mandela would have liked to be a shepherd to us. Showing us the way while he stays behind, and us never “realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

I am sure Mandela would want us to give the gift of forgiveness during this most sacred holiday season. He once said that it doesn’t count that you merely live, it’s the difference you make in others’ lives. And forgiveness makes a difference in every life.


In Mandela’s autobiography, he said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

If you think about it, no one is born not wanting to apologize. A toddler will look up from under their eyelashes at you and be as apologetic as they can be in their youth when making a mistake.

Nature or nurture may not be at work at all. Maybe it is about the Divine being that created us, telling us what is good for us.

And repentance is good for us. So is spinach.

 

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