Something deep inside me keeps detailed records of wrongs. Granted, I tend to keep more meticulous records of the wrongs done to me than the wrongs I’ve done. I despise this part of me. I am overwhelmed by the weight of carrying those wrongs. I desire on the deepest levels of myself to release them. But I get stuck. Paralyzed. Unsure that there actually is a way to release the wrongs. There’s that teetering-on-trite expression “I can forgive but not forget…”
I think I know where it begins – reconciliation, forgiveness, restitution, the “righting” of “wrongs” – I think it probably begins with “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” I’m just not sure where it goes from there or if there even is an end to the process.
When Ariel Castro died last month just one month into his life-plus-1000-years sentence I wondered if his death would heal or rip open the wounds of those he hurt. Public reactions were messy, ambivalent and intense.
When Sharlene heard the news that there were charges being laid against two suspects in the death of her husband, Tim, I wondered if some part of her doubted that “justice” would ever stand a chance. I wondered if she already admitted to her heart that “justice” wouldn’t bring back her Tim.
When Ian Mosby tore the veil off a shameful and horrific moment in our not-too-distant Canadian past I wondered if finally now we might start an honest reconciliation. I wondered if all the words that have been launched, whether to slur or defend or excuse or placate might finally be swept away and a new conversation could begin.
When I messed up a few weeks ago and really hurt my friend, I wondered what I could do to make it all right. What words could I say that would express how very sorry I was, how deeply I understood my screw-up, how desperately I wanted to fix things? And then I accepted that my words would never be enough. A rift had settled between us.
How do we fix the broken places? How do we grow trust in places where trust has been vacuated? Because it’s a two-way street. Sometimes it’s a crowded Parisian roundabout. Someone to admit wrong. Someone to say sorry. Someone to hear the sorry. Someone to believe the sorry. Someone to know that a word can mean more than the sum of its letters. Someone to step beyond words. Someone to initiate a new plan. Someone to accept that the past is over. Someone to hope that the future can be different.
In the weeks and months to come here in Canada we are going to hear stories that will make us weep and feel sick and likely despair. Because buried in the closet of our collective past are some very heinous memories.
Where we will look for and how we choose to build reconciliation…that’s something I wonder about too.