FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES
by PAULINE WALLACE-KEATON
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“FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES”
Emma Storm watched the first snowflakes of winter falling from the large bay window she loved—a chill swept through her as cold as the now accumulating snow. As she wrapped her arms about her shoulders rubbing vigorously, her mind drifted back to a warmer time… “I thought you were my friend,” she yelled. “How could you steal from me? I would have given it to you, but noooooo—you’d rather steal…” “Emma, pleassssseee,” the frail voice tried to interject, but Emma’s rage was too much.
“Forgive me, I just didn’t know it was yours…I found…” her friend Joyce fended. “Don’t give me that, ‘I found it’ routine” Emma blasted again. “You knew!! You’ve admired it for years. That was my grandmother’s brooch-- a family heirloom! There’s not another to be found and you…” “Okay, okay but I didn’t steal it—I borrowed and returned it,” her friend Joyce finally managed to say. “Only after I was frantic and told you it was stolen,” Emma cracked again.
I forgot about it, Joyce tried again. Right! I think you should leave now, Emma snapped. “Emma, we’ve been friends a long time. I’d forgive you,” Joyce pleaded. “Of course you would, because you’re not me. I’ll try to forgive you because we do so much work together, and we’re members of the same organizations at church, but I won’t forget it!” Emma said “matter-of-factly”, slamming the door behind her friend.
Emma’s thoughts returned to the present. She was mindful of the newspaper dropped at her feet. Staring back at her from the “Obit” section, as they’d laughingly called it on the job, was her “friend” Joyce’s picture. At that moment she realized she never really forgave her for the brooch. To make matters worse, her husband Tom told her the most shocking story, that morning… It’s too bad you and Joyce lost track of each other. Over the years, you never let me call her name. That’s too bad too, now that she’s gone. Her husband told me she’d asked for you…I tried to tell you…,” his voice trailed off. “Gone? Asked me…?” Emma’s mind went racing. “When did she get sick? What happened..?” she thought feverishly.
“You know, the night I let her use your Grandmother’s brooch for that dinner party—I told her it was ‘hush-hush’ or you’d have my head. All she could talk about was you, and how much that brooch meant to you. How she’d wish she had a grandmother like yours that you thought so much of…that’s too bad,” Tom’s voice trailed again as he went out of the door.
Oh my God! Jesus, don’t let this be happening, she groaned desperately from deep within, sounding like a wounded animal. “She hadn’t stolen the brooch! She was telling the truth, trying to save Tom—all those wasted years ago. Joyce! Joyce, forgive meeee! She wailed as the tears welled up in her eyes. “I didn’t know…I didn’t know,” she said through muffled sobs.
Picking up the newspaper, it felt as though the weight of the world was embedded in it. As she lowered her weary, troubled body into the chair beside her favorite window, she began to pray, as hot tears trickled down her cheeks, like the falling snow: “…Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” How many times had she heard and recited this prayer in vain? They were just words. Unless she forgave—she would not be forgiven. How she longed for her friend. How she wished she’d returned the cards and letters from her over the years...
If only she had been the friend and Christian she’d professed to be all those years, she would have forgiven her friend and offered the matching earrings too! “Thank you Joyce for being my friend even in death. For in death you’ve taught me the thing I would not hear from you in life. In death, you’ve afforded me the chance to live the truth I profess—in death, I know you’ve forgiven me. Now, with God’s help, perhaps I can forgive myself.”
Moral: Death is the only time it is too late to forgive or be forgiven. As long as you have breath and there is someone you need to forgive or be forgiven of, why don’t you take time to do it, today—instead of putting it off? We always believe we have time, but time is not promised.
The Bible tells us, if we’re to be forgiven (by God) then we must forgive others. Isn’t your soul salvation worth more than the “vanity “of unforgiveness? Our last breath is too late. There is only silence, in the grave.
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