The Strength to Forgive
Is there an unforgivable crime?
Prince Roderick is the embodiment of a peace child. The land of Delasci had been torn by clan war for decades before an uneasy peace was achieved, cemented by the marriage of his parents and subsequently his birth and fostering.
On a visit home with his foster father to attend a diplomatic gathering, the entire land of Delasci is shocked when the High Queen elopes with one of the diplomats, leaving behind six children and threatening the peace of the recently united kingdom. Roderick is devastated. How can any mother do that to her children? He vows never to forgive her.
But the lessons of his mentor keep haunting him. Forgive as you would be forgiven.... Only cowards and weaklings cannot forgive....
How do you forgive a crime like hers?
“Now, my children,” the priest steepled his fingers and gravely regarded the half dozen pupils seated on garden benches in front of him. “What does our Lord command concerning forgiveness?”
“If we want Him to forgive us, we must forgive others,” Brighid repeated.
“Very good, Brighid. Unforgiveness is a worm. You have all seen what an apple with a worm looks like inside. Unforgiveness becomes a worm that will eat at you like that.”
The two youngest children exchanged wide-eyed glances.
“But, what about clan feuds, Father Ualan?” a gangly boy at the back leaned forward.
“Clan wars, young Hamish, are the worst kind of war,” the priest replied firmly. The other two boys from the back looked about to say something, but Father Ualan went on, “All of humanity are brothers. The Clans of Delasci are bound even more closely, for they are all brothers of one land, and one national blood. When they fight each other, when they refuse to forgive, it grieves our Lord deeply.”
“But, it’s a man’s duty to avenge his family,” the lad with broad shoulders argued. “He is a coward and weakling if he does not.”
“Nay, Torquil, no man who prevents needless bloodshed is weak,” Fataher Ualan looked sadly out over the gardens, recalling the depths of sorrow he had been plunged into by clan warfare. “It takes a strong man to forgive, my children. Anyone can harbor a grudge. Anyone can refuse to forgive. But only a strong person can say the words, ‘I forgive you’ and mean them. Only a strong man can refuse to fight when there is provocation. It is not cowardice. It is instead the act of a hero, of someone who cares more for the lives of people than his own pride.”
“But, it is not pride, it is honor,” the tallest boy spoke. “It is our duty to avenge our families, even the Bible speaks of that.”
“It does, my son. But there is a higher law than that, Roderick. It is love. Love above hate. Forgiveness above feuds,” Father Ualan paused to let his words sink in. Wisely, he knew they would need to think long and hard about what they had just heard.
“Now, lessons are over for today. Run off and enjoy God’s own sunshine that he so kindly shares with us. The horn will call for dinner soon.”
Torquil and Roderick walked slowly off together.
“Do you think it is true?” Roderick asked his friend at last.
“I don’t know,” Torquil shook his head in frustration. “It is the opposite of what we have been taught from the time we knew what a dirk was. Does that mean our fathers are wrong? That can’t be,” he shook his head again in bewilderment.
“They are not weak, never that. But he said it takes strength to forgive,” Roderick frowned.
Miss Melody Muffin