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On Fixing and Forgiving

My daughter and I were sitting at the streetside window of a local café this afternoon when a couple of quite spectacularly drunk guys walked up to the front door. One of them started screaming at the door, middle finger enthusiastically raised in glorious salute. He looked over at us, grinned weirdly and then returned his attentions to the front door. More middle fingers, more yelling, and then the unpleasant culmination of his hostilities: he leaned back and spit on the front door before stumbling away. 

I looked over at my daughter. She was just sitting there quietly with a look of mild alarm on her face. I had been sort of mentally bracing myself to intervene if these guys had come into the café, but was glad this wasn’t required. I later found out that they had been in earlier in the day causing quite a stir, and had been escorted out by some of the staff. I asked the young woman behind the till—who was looking rather anxiously down the street—if there was anyone in the building that could handle the situation if they returned. She figured the chef might be up to the task.

I went back, sat down beside my daughter and sighed. “Sad, eh?” I said. She nodded wordlessly. I fumbled around for something intelligent to say. “Unfortunately, those kinds of things tend to add fuel to all the racist stereotypes you hear around town” (the young men were indigenous).” Not the brightest thing to say, I grant, but I was trying to open the door to conversation. I know that my daughter sees these situations through a much different lens than I do and I’m always curious to know how she processes stuff like this.

“Yeah,” she said. “I bet there’s a story behind it, though. And I bet it’s a sad one.”

“Without question,” I replied. My mind returned to themes from yesterday’s post.

We sat and sipped our drinks in silence for a bit.

“Dad, you know what I wonder sometimes? I wonder if Jesus was here today what he would do in a situation like this?” I thought about that for a bit.

“Well, I’m pretty sure he would be kinder than we often are,” I said.

“Yeah, probably. I bet he would be nice to that guy. But I think Jesus would also tell him to smarten up.”

What followed was a great conversation about mercy and justice and personal responsibility. We talked about our human fondness for throwing stones at “sinners” and about how Jesus persistently takes them out of our eager hands. We talked about our tendency to judge people based on little snapshots of time and space, how we almost never know the whole story.

 We sat for a bit longer, our mugs steadily emptying.

She looked up and said, “Dad, when Jesus comes back he’s going to have a lot of people to fix.” I smiled and said, “Yeah. And a lot of us to forgive, too.”

She thought about that for a bit before saying, “Well, in a lot of ways his forgiving is fixing isn’t it?” I told her that sounded pretty deep. I might even be able to spin a sermon out of a sentence like that. Or a blog post.

We looked out the window in time to see the police van roll by. We wondered where it was going or who might already be in the back.

——

The image above is another one of my daughter’s creations from her younger years. I used it simply because I think she’s a pretty talented artist. Also, because I’m glad to have her home for the week to drink coffee with me and teach me about theology. 

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