One of the more charming movies I’ve recently seen is last year’s “BFG”, directed by Steven Spielberg. It tells the story of the magical adventure of an orphan girl named Sophie, who befriends a big friendly giant (“B.F.G.”).
A moment that caught my interest occurred midway through the film. Sophie is taken to a mystical tree where dreams are born. These primordial dreams float around like colored fireflies, and can be caught. Most of the dreams are happy, or silly. However, Sophie learns that not all dreams are benign. She catches a glowing red dream and the B.F.G. solemnly warns her to leave that one be, for it is a Trogglehumper. The particular dream that Sophie found was summarized thus:
“Look what you has done. There be no forgiveness.”
Now this is downright biblical. It encapsulates a sense of shame that many individuals feel, and can’t easily shake. On an even deeper level, this Trogglehumper represents the collective nightmare of fallen Humanity.
Who can free us from such a Trogglehumper? The Christian answer is that God can give us a new dream, a better dream, one whose narrative is “Here be forgiveness; here be love.”
To such a wonderful change in the narrative, our response echoes King David’s song of praise (recorded in Psalm 103):
Praise the Lord, O my soul
and all that is within me praise his holy Name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul
and forget not all his benefits;
Who forgiveth all thy sin
and healeth all thine infirmities;
Who saveth thy life from destruction
and crowneth thee with mercy and loving-kindness
A man who lost his home, whose wife and two daughters were killed in the Gatlnburg, TN wildfires, offered a message of forgiveness to the juveniles who lit the fires. Michael Reed wrote the following:
“We will pray for you. Every day. We will pray for your parents and your family members. Every day. We will pray for your peace. We will show you grace. Why? Because that’s what Jesus would do.”
(Read more at CNN.com).
Ten years ago, on an October day in Nickel Mines, PA, a man named Charles Roberts who was “angry at life and angry with God” according to accounts at the time, crept into a one room schoolhouse. He took ten girls hostage, and then shot them, before killing himself. Five of them died, and the rest were seriously injured.
Almost immediately, the devastated Amish community sought to forgive the deceased perpetrator, and to reach out with compassion to the family of Mr. Roberts. As reported by NPR: “Several families, Amish families who had buried their own daughters just the day before were in attendance and they hugged the widow, and hugged other members of the killer’s family.” The Amish later donated money to his widow and children.
In a further twist–like the old idea of “paying it forward”–that love and embrace has spread. Terri Roberts, the mother of Mr. Roberts, has in turn helped those whom her son victimized. She has become a part time caretaker of an Amish girl named Rosanna, who was neurologically devastated by a gunshot wound to the head. (As reported in New York Daily News).
This “Amish grace” shocked the nation almost as much as the horrific crime out of which it manifested. Though many still struggle at times, the Amish families were able to endure thanks to their strong community and the deep faith that permeates their day-to-day lives. In this, they are exemplars to all of us.
CBS News recently reported a story of faith and forgiveness, with a fascinating twist of fate. In 2005, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Jameel McGee was arrested on false charges of drug dealing. He spent four years in jail before he was exonerated. While in prison, Jamal found God.
His arresting officer had his own “come to Jesus” moment (figuratively as well as literally). His misdeeds were discovered, he was fired, and he had to do his own stint of jail time for a year and a half. While in prison, he, too, became a Christian. Looking back on his former life he says, “I was the lowest of the low.”
Today, by chance (give or take a dose of divine intervention) they have found themselve working alongside each other at the same faith-based cafe. Jamal McGee confronted the former policeman, Andrew Collins, who apologized. Jamal McGee, who is vocal about his Christian faith, forgave Collins, and says that today they are very good friends.
Today they’re not only cordial, they’re friends. Such close friends, not long ago McGee actually told Collins he loved him.
“And I just started weeping because he doesn’t owe me that. I don’t deserve that,” Collins said.
You may read more at CBS.
There is also an article at Huffington Post.
“…she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”
–Sister of DePayne Middleton Doctor, quoted in the Washington Post.