Sunday, March 25, 2012

Two Mothers

Two Mothers

Long time ago, so I have been told
Two angels once met on streets paved with gold.
"By the stars in your crown, "said the one to the other
"I see that on earth, you too, were a mother.

And by the blue-tinted halo you wear
You, too, have known sorrow and deepest despair."
"ah, yes," she replied, "I once had a son,
A sweet little lad, full of laughter and fun."

"But tell of your child." "oh, I knew I was blessed
From the moment I first held him close to my breast,
And my heart almost burst with the joy of that day."
"Ah, yes," said the other, "I felt the same way."

The former continued: "The first steps he took-
So eager and breathless; the sweet startled look
Which came over his face-he trusted me so."
"Ah, yes, " said the other, "How well do I know."

"But soon he had grown to a tall handsome boy,
So stalwart and kind-and it gave me so much joy
To have him just walk down the street by my side."
"Ah yes," said the other, "I felt the same pride."

"How often I shielded and spared him from pain
and when he for others was so cruelly slain.
When they crucified him-and they spat in his face,
How gladly would I have hung there in his place!"

A moment of silence-" oh, then you are she-
The mother of Christ:; and she fell on one knee.
But the blessed one raised her up, drawing her near,
And kissed from the cheek of the woman, a tear.

"Tell me the name of the son you love so,
That I may share with your grief and your woe."
She lifted her eyes, looking straight at the other,
"He was Judas Iscariot; I am his mother."
Is there someone in your life you cannot and/or do not want to forgive?

Pastor Bob, the senior Pastor at Eagle Brook Church, was delivering a solid message on forgiveness, which he defined as choosing to let something go.  He told us that forgiveness is a decision, and is a process that can take time.  Pastor Bob explained that forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget what someone did or said to you, and you may even need to end your relationship what that person for a time, even if you have forgiven them.  Bob further discussed how forgiving someone is never what you want to do, and it does not benefit the other person as much as it benefits you – it sets you free and allows you to release your anger and sleep at night.

Although I had heard all of this from Pastor Bob before, they were still great reminders. Pastor Bob showed a recent segment from CBS Evening News.

Back in 1993, 20 year old Laramiun Byrd was gunned down by 16 year old Oshea Israel.  Early on, the news segment showed Laramiun’s mother, Mary Johnson, visiting her son’s grave. Mary would say that she forgave Oshea, the boy who murdered her son.

The video took a bit of a twist when stating that Oshea was released after 17 years in prison and now lived in the same North Minneapolis neighborhood as Mary.  Whoa, that’s kind of freaky. Then, the video described just how close they lived.  Mary and Oshea were shown standing three feet apart, each in the front door of their adjacent apartment units.

Next came a few comments from Mary and Oshea, the most powerful being Mary’s comment that, “Unforgiveness is like cancer, it will eat you from the inside.”

The video ended and when the lights in the church came back on, three chairs and a table joined Pastor Bob on stage.  “Hmmmm,” I thought, “what is this all about?”  I was pretty sure Pastor Bob was going to invite a couple people on stage and either moderate a forgiveness between them, or himself grant or ask for forgiveness from them.

So much for that.  “Please help me welcome to the stage, Mary and Oshea.”  After I got over my initial shock of watching Mary and Oshea walk onto the stage and give Pastor Bob a big group-hug.

Over the next 15 minutes, Pastor Bob asked Mary and Oshea a number of tough questions.  Mary was very passionate and eloquent in her answers.  Oshea was pretty reserved, but had many great one liners, including, “I was scared to meet Mary.  Have you ever met an angry mother?  I’d rather deal with prisoners.”

They told the story of how Mary brimmed with anger for 12 years before realizing she needed to forgive Oshea.  She first met Oshea in prison, then she threw him a party when he left prison.  The 35 people she invited to the party took turns telling Oshea how they could help his transition back into society.  These connections ultimately helped Oshea rent the apartment next to Mary.  She joked that being this close to Oshea came in handy this morning as she was able to simply pound on the wall and call to Oshea that it was time to go to church.

Near the end of the interview, Oshea talked about the day he first met Mary in prison.  He was terrified of the meeting, but by the end of it, he felt he needed to do something for Mary.  So, at the end of their meeting, he asked her if he could give her a hug.

He described how she wrapped herself around him, sobbing and wailing, while giving him a most powerful embrace.  Virtually the entire congregation was quite choked up at this point, but Oshea let us off the hook when he quipped, “Here she is hugging me and going hysterical, and I’m looking around at the prison guards thinking, ‘Why don’t one of you get this crazy lady off of me?’”

The point is this.  Mary could have hated Oshea for the rest of her life and withheld forgiveness, but what good would that have done her?  If Mary can forgive Oshea, the murderer of her only child, we can certainly forgive each other for much lesser wrongs.

Note:  The views and interpretations are my own.  To see the actual message, go to, the message should be online within a couple days.

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