It started innocently. A few of us were chatting from a distance during one of The Dale’s meal-for-takeaway days until one comment was misconstrued. In less than a few seconds things got really hot between two people, with one of them uttering threats and name-calling. We all tried to intervene in order to de-escalate the tension, which included me endeavouring to calm one person down, while the other staff ushered one person across the street. The yelling escalated and culminated in a mooning. Things settled after this. I spent some time helping the person left behind try to process what had just happened.
It was admittedly with some surprise and trepidation that we noticed the other person making their way back to us. What happened next is the real point of me writing today. We got to witness repentance and forgiveness. The offender placed a coin in my hand, saying “please give this to our friend so they can buy a coffee. And let them know I am sorry.” I delivered the message, not confident of how it would be received. I could see a softening of the shoulders and was thrilled to hear, “I will shake hands”. Not only did they shake hands, they talked through what happened. It ended with an embrace.
Being able to identify and own what we have done to hurt someone is not often an easy task. Being able to accept an apology can also be a challenge. Also difficult is that forgiveness can be confused with pardoning or condoning behaviour. Repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation are all brave acts of vulnerability. Witnessing our two friends fight and reconcile within a very short period of time filled me with joy. I wanted to skip down the street. They reminded me of the value of cultivating forgiveness as an ongoing practice.
Note: This story is shared with permission.