Pope Francis gives his weekly general audience in St Peter's square on November 18, 2015 at the Vatican. Married Catholic priests in Kenya want Pope Francis to spare a moment and meet them during his visit to the country. AFP PHOTO | ANDREAS SOLARO
Whether or not you are a Catholic, this has been a historic week, with the visit of Pope Francis to Kenya. One of the central messages given by the Catholic leader is on the importance of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is very important because it frees the person who forgives from the prison of un-forgiveness.
You may not know it, but as long as you hold a grudge against someone, you are a prisoner. The other person may not know that they hurt you.
Everyone needs forgiveness. If you haven’t already, please watch the 2007 movie: The Note, directed by Douglas Barr. It is a story about a columnist by the name Genie Francis who came across a note that had been written by a passenger in a plane that
had unfortunately crashed, leaving no survivors. The writer had written a simple note: “Dear T, All is forgiven. Love, Dad”.
The journalist embarks on a journey of locating the intended recipient of the note. She decides to track all the families of the men on the flight, hoping to give the note to its intended recipient.
As she does so, she is led through a journey of self-discovery, as are all the individuals she contacts.
For instance, there was a man whose father was a pastor. The man is not sure whether he should stay in the church that his father had founded. After reading the note, he recalls the conversations he had with his father, and knows that he needed to step into his father’s shoes.
An embittered female singer whose foster father had died on the plane has a chance to reflect on her life when she gets the note and makes a change for the better.
CENTRAL TO LIFE
The journalist herself has some learning to do. Years ago, she had given up her new-born child for adoption and had never forgiven herself for having done it. As she meets different people, she realises that forgiveness is central to life itself.
Eventually she finds the real owner of the note. Christine, who had been adopted at birth, got into a quarrel with her adoptive father just before he got onto the fateful plane. Her words were hurtful.
Her dad must have realised that the plane would crash and had the time to write the note, thus giving her the gift of forgiveness.
The beautiful twist is that Christine was the daughter that the journalist had given up at birth. She too has a chance to ask for forgiveness.
One of the lessons I learnt was that it was important to use each opportunity you are with someone that hurt you to mend fences. Don’t leave unsaid what you can say today-one day it might be too late. Don’t wait for next time because sometimes, next time never comes!
I also learnt that it is important not to judge people on face value, because you don’t know everything about them. They may be hiding secret hurts that make them behave the way they do. Instead of becoming judgemental, learn to ask yourself, ‘What circumstances or hurts might this person have gone through for them to become like this?”
Always be accommodating and forgiving because you don’t know the whole story.
When is the last time you wrote a note of forgiveness to someone? You might want to start with yourself. Are there things that you need to forgive yourself for having done or failed to do? Next, who are the people that have hurt you? Have you locked them out of your life by holding back forgiveness?
You need to write them a note of forgiveness so that you free yourself of the burden of un-forgiveness.
Please write a forgiveness note to someone today. Even if you don’t get to give them the note, please write it. Go on, do it before it is too late!
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