BY-WAYS -4/10/41 -
"Father, Forgive Them..."
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Matchless words of Jesus on the cross! And yet how few
Of us who, spared His anguish, have the grace just to forgive
The trifling hurts that come to us from those with whom we live.
Oh, when we pray, "Forgive our debts," do we fulfill our part
By cancelling and blotting out, the debt that mars the heart?
The only way to triumph o'er the wrongs that Life must give
Is, bear the Cross, and learn the hardest lesson: To Forgive.
Where shall we turn, in this world turmoil of today, for shining examples of forgiveness? We might take the great Chinese general, Chiang Kai Shek. A story was told in our Sunday school - of a certain American, who was a guest in the home of General Chiang and his lovely wife, both of whom are devout Christians. While this visitor was there, the siren sounded, warning them of the impending air raid, and giving the signal for the blackout. The hosts, the servants, and the visitor, went out on the lawn, to watch the brilliant lights of destruction in the sky. Later, when the visitor rose to leave, General Chiang invited him to linger and join in their evening devotions. This visitor, an ardent Christian himself, wrote afterward that he never heard such a prayer as Chiang Kai Shek gave that night. He ended his prayer by asking the Lord to bless and forgive the invading Japanese, for "they know not what they do." That brave and patriotic general takes his Christianity right with him, even in the heat of battle.
The greatest examples - everyday examples of forgiveness - are to be found in little children. I recall a very personal experience, when Estelle was about three. It had been an "off day" with me. I can't remember the provocation, but it couldn't possibly justify the whipping I gave that child. That night, when I tucked her in bed, she smiled up at me, "I love you, Mamma." That came from the heart, for Estelle is not given to lip service. I left that room overwhelmed with the wonder of the love and forgiveness of a little child. Only the other day I got cantankerous about the mud being tracked in by two very active and normal boys. The mud tracks led only from the side door to the basement, where lay four very muddy runners. I not only made the boys wash down the stairs and clean their rubbers (which was all right) but gave them a lecture on thoughtlessness and making me extra work (which was all wrong). That evening, for supper, I had promised them hot biscuits to go with the delicious maple syrup that Estelle had brought us from the Chardon Maple Festival. The boys, seeing that I was tired, gallantly "laid down the law"... "No baking in a hot oven, Mom." (We compromised by having waffles, which, I think, pleased Estelle even more). The boys made me sit down, and they got most of the supper. They never even thought about forgiveness; but in my own mind I tried to translate their attitude into words, which went like this, "Father, forgive Mom, for she was too tired to know what she was saying." I think we parents have to fight constantly against taking advantage of the love and generous forgiveness of these children of ours. How true the Master spoke, when He said, "Except ye become as a little child, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." ***
Overheard on the street corner, as two Catholic women went, each to her own church, "You say a prayer for me, and I'll say one for you." On the crowded street car the other day I was wedged in, with a fairly bulky package. Finding (in Cleveland, anyway) that on the street-cars, the day of chivalry is past - for men, I was resigned to along, jerky ride, my chief indoor sport being to keep my balance. A beautiful girl tapped my arm, and said, "Please have my seat." I couldn't believe my ears. Such a thing in hard-boiled Cleveland! Why, it just wasn't being done. But she graciously insisted. She sat on her chum's knee - by my side - and we three had a great visit. These two charming, well-mannered girls attend Notre Dame College for Girls, right here in South Euclid. I am constantly impressed by the courtesy of those brought up in parochial schools. Instead of criticizing those who do not worship in quite the same manner in which we do, why don't we take a lesson from them. We could learn much of self-sacrifice, devotion to their religion, from the Catholics. One of the best friends I ever hope to have is a devout Catholic.
Once more I must end abruptly. May we carry the beauty, the hope of the Resurrection, on into the year to come.
Florence B. Taylor.
South Euclid, Ohio
Next -4/17/41 - Lake Lilac - "A-Ridin' on a Raft"