Monday, October 09, 2006

Finding God in the most unlikely places

An amazing part of the Amish school shooting story that hasn't gotten nearly enough attention.

Forgiving the unforgivable

October 7, 2006
Forgiveness is an irrational act.

Biblical texts and self-help books attempt to make it seem less so. They tell you that you can forgive the act without condoning the action. They tell you that you should forgive because doing so leavens a burdened heart, which sounds reasonable, until the time comes to put it to the test. Can there be any greater test than struggling to forgive the brutal murder of a child?

In the days since the killings in a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., the tone from the grieving Amish community has been not of despair or revenge, but of forgiveness.A relative of 13-year-old Marian Fisher, one of the children shot by Charles Carl Roberts, 32, extended an invitation to Roberts' widow to attend the girl's funeral.

The Amish woman told a reporter, "It's our Christian love to show to her we have not any grudges against her."Another Amish woman told NBC News, "Tell the world that we are grateful for its prayers, but also remember to pray for the gunman's family."An Amish man told The New York Times that he had shaken hands with Roberts' father-in-law after Monday's killings. "I think it's helping him to meet people, too, and see that there's no grudge," the Amish man said. "How could you hold a grudge against the wife, the family?"

The Amish, who don't believe in asking for donations, have set up a college fund for Roberts' three children.But is that so surprising? After all, the Amish aim to lead a simple and godly life, governed by the biblical principles of loving their enemies and not responding to violence with violence.

Still, anyone who has ever set out on the winding road to forgiveness knows it is easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. This week the Amish have offered all of us a superb lesson on how to make the talk and the walk intersect.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

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