The noble virtue of forgiveness
This is a remarkable story. It is the all too human story of an American government warehouse worker, Karl Taylor, and his wife, Edith, a factory worker. A very devoted couple, they had been married for twenty-three years. Their unusual bond was such that whenever Karl’s work took him on one of his frequent trips out of town, he would write Edith a long letter, accompanied by a gift, from where he was at the time.
And then came the longest trip. In January 1949, Karl was sent to Okinawa to manage an American warehouse.
Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture, consisting of a dozen islands that are also known as the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, when US troops invaded the Islands, remained under US administration until 1972.
It was to this extreme east that Karl was sent, apparently for a few months, while Edith, alone in the small Massachusetts town of Waltham, tried to make the best of an untenable marital situation. As the months went by, Edith became preoccupied with purchasing a quaint unfinished cabin and worked hard to complete it. It would be a surprise gift for Karl when he returned.
Surprisingly, Karl’s letter writing became unusually infrequent, slowly dwindling to a pathetic, lonely handwriting in just one month. More alarming, and for some inexplicable reason, he seemed to prefer an extension of his stay abroad beyond the call of duty.
Finally, after a long silence, the tragedy came in the form of a letter from Okinawa: “Dear Edith, I wish I could find a kinder way to deliver this news, but we are no longer married …”
Apparently, Karl had filed for divorce in Mexico and had his application granted by mail. “… and Edith, I regret to inform you that soon I will marry a Japanese girl from here. She is eighteen years old and I love her very much. Please forgive me …”
Edith was forty-eight years old and devastated and heartbroken. She had enough justification to be bitter, and all known laws of human nature supported any extreme degree of dislike she might feel towards Karl and the Japanese girl, whose name was Aiko. Incredibly, this was not the case, as Edith instead chose to make excuses for Karl’s renegade conduct. He had been pathetically lonely, she told herself. So far from home, he’d probably had too much to drink at times, she rationalized through tears. And when you added a poor, vulnerable woman to the sad image, you had the perfect recipe for absolute disaster.
Even in her grief, Edith still found Karl’s behavior commendable for being honest enough to divorce and marry the girl. She, frankly, was not convinced the marriage would work due to the vast disparities in their ages and backgrounds. He believed that Karl would soon regain his lost sanity and return home. With a heavy heart, she sold the cabin, refusing to tell Karl, and kept her job at the factory. She waited.
But Karl didn’t come home. His next letter announced that he and Aiko were expecting a baby. The girl, Marie, was born in 1951, closely followed by Helen’s arrival in 1953. Edith sent gifts to the girls at their christening and life went on.
Another letter came from Okinawa. It brought terrible news. Karl was dying of lung cancer. He poured out his fears on Edith, his long-suffering friend. His medical expenses had wiped out his savings. What would become of Aiko and the girls?
At this point, Edith decided that the last gift she could give her ex-husband was peace of mind. He offered to take the two children to live with her in Massachusetts. Aiko’s maternal instincts initially proved to be an understandable barrier to this arrangement, but she eventually capitulated when she realized that all she could offer the girls was poverty and despair. In 1956, the girls came to America, quickly adjusting to their new surroundings and making Edith a very happy woman.
Aiko, alone in Okinawa, was a very unhappy person. He would write pathetic letters to Edith. Were the girls doing well? Did they cry often? Finally, Edith decided that her love for Karl demanded yet another price: she would have to bring the children’s mother to live with her in the United States. However, it was a challenging undertaking, as the immigration quota for Japan had been exhausted and there were many on the waiting list. Edith was unmoved. He sought the help of influential Americans, and finally, in 1957, Aiko was granted entry into the United States.
When the plane landed at New York International Airport, then known as La Guardia, Edith was suddenly seized with fear. What if he hated this woman he had taken from Karl? The last passenger to disembark was a thin and frail girl, who looked like nothing more than a child. She stood unsteadily on the catwalk, clinging to the railing, and Edith realized that Aiko was probably alarmingly scared. He called out Aiko’s name, and the hapless girl ran down the steps into Edith’s arms. At that moment, her eye blinded by tears, Edith said a silent prayer: “Help me, my God, to love this poor girl, as if she were part of Karl. I prayed that Karl would come to me, now he has. , “in the shape of his two little girls and this poor sweet girl whom he loved. Help me God to love them like I loved Karl. Help me God “.
And he cried uncontrollably.
Edith and Aiko lived together, raising Karl’s two children into two beautiful young women.
This is a remarkable and moving story of selfless forgiveness. It’s also quite moving, isn’t it? This is because the story itself has traces of divinity.
One of the best lessons we can learn from traversing this earthly plane is how to forgive. Latent anger, hatred, and resentment establish barriers that deprive us of spiritual power. Truly, relentless and malevolent rancor is a cancer of the soul.
How do you go about being an forgiving person?
First, you have to get rid of all judgment. This is because we can never be in possession of all the information we need to make an absolutely fair judgment. There will always be facts hidden from us, and known only to our Creator, and that is why it is more appropriate to leave the judgment to Him. In any case, none of us is so perfect as to allow ourselves to be rudely harsh and inflexible with people who hurt us. .
Second, you must become a compassionate person. It is true that this is still a difficult thing to do when you are hurt, as the instinctive and primarily animal reaction is to fight and inflict damage when you think you are wronged. There is an understandable tendency for people to equate kindness with compassion. They are two completely different entities. Compassion really involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, wondering if the other person is to blame, or if you should take some of the blame, imagining what it would be like to feel the pain and dilemma of another, take your attention away from yourself. . for a moment, and then feel love for the person.
Third, you will need to creatively visualize the entire situation in terms of a reconciling attitude. This means actually and actively viewing the fractured relationship as healed. Imagine the poisons of anger and resentment leaving your system. Let your imagination run wild with images of what you will achieve in a renewed and healthy relationship with the person.
Fourth, pray for the person who has offended you, and if this turns out to be an intractable challenge, as it usually is, pray, rather, that you will be given a special grace to say a prayer for the person, and then Go ahead. , say it. It is imperative that you realize that forgiving the person will be of greater benefit to you than to him. Remember, in your prayers, you generally ask for your debts to be forgiven as you forgive your debtors.
Your antipathy towards someone who has hurt you is not only understandable, it can even be considered quite logical. However, you should immediately begin to incline your thoughts toward forgiveness. If you focus exclusively on people’s shortcomings and forget that they have good points, it will be difficult, if not almost impossible, to find a good and worthy person in this whole world. Simply, by a conscious act of your will, refuse to hold a grudge against anyone. I tell you that you cannot develop a higher level personality if you allow yourself to pick up and hold grievances of any kind. There is a fun angle to holding a grievance. While you are worried about your resentment towards some people, they are dancing and having fun, blissfully and totally oblivious to your negative feelings towards them.
Forgiveness is your key to the realm of inner peace. You will discover, as is the case with most people, that it is the most difficult and yet the most important thing that you will be able to do in your life. The beauty of this cathartic process is that it will free you from the past and wonderfully free your mind for creativity. Do not allow any man to belittle your soul by making you hate him. Forgiveness is the key to the realm of mental and spiritual development. When you become a totally forgiving person, you are emulating the character traits of some of the best men and women to ever walk this earth, and in the process, you are siding with the angels. Regular practice of freely forgiving everyone for everything will make you calmer, kinder, and more compassionate. Forgiveness acknowledges that what you thought your brother did to you simply didn’t happen in the first place. Forgiveness will always be the most powerful thing you can do for your physiology and spirituality.
Said in the most sublime terms, forgiveness ranks as the greatest spiritual act of love that you can ever perform for yourself and others.