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Forgiveness and compassion

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Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog: Forgiveness and compassion

Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Forgiveness and compassion

After reading nearly all of The Wisdom of the Woods by Wallace Huey yesterday, I'm reminded of a story I wrote myself about 4 years ago and I feel compelled to re-post it again today. Those that have known me from childhood, particularly those I was at junior school with may recognise elements of this story. 

Derren smiled at the little girl across the school yard. He had not caught her eye yet. He marvelled at her golden hair, her pretty face, and the way her eyes shined with joy as she played “hopscotch” with her friend. Eventually she glanced toward him and he increased his toothy grin. The little girls eye turned to opaque dark peals and the smile left her face. “Ewwwww, you’re ugly Dumbo! Big ears!” Derren was hurt and confused by the stinging retort. A few girls joined in and giggled as they taunted little him.
Derren was a slight boy with disproportionate features that are often typical of an eight year old. Straight, lank hair and a lopsided fringe added to features open to teasing by other children. Derren was an over excitable child. His enthusiasm at play was often overwhelming to other children, so sometimes he was excluded from some of the games.
Later, Derren sat in the dinner hall with the liver and watery powdered mash potato on his plate feeling nauseous. Derren had always been a dreamer (at least these were the words her heard mum say to other adults). Staring out of the window he spotted his teacher Miss Frost standing on chairs pinning pictures to the wall, a cigarette dangling from her mouth. He hated Miss Frost. He was afraid of her sterness and sharp tongue.
The next day, lining up for class, Derren watched as all the girls walked into the classroom and chanted in turn “Good morning Miss”. He noticed how Miss Frost smiled at the girls (especially the pretty girl) and returned the compliment. “Good morning Lucy”. Derren looked up at Miss Frost “Good morning Miss”, however it seemed she had no interest in him and and did not acknowledge the greeting. It seemed she was more interested in the girls. Disappointed and hurt, Derren trudged to his seat with his head bowed.
Miss Frost always wore an “Alice band”. Derren was able to gauge her mood each morning dependant upon the colour. Green would indicate a pleasant mood and this would give him a feeling of safety and calmness. If he was lucky, Miss might even smile at him and say “Good morning”. Blue indicated a bad mood and flagged up danger signals, beware! This morning however, Miss was not wearing a hair band. She had hair clips. Derren very quickly found out that Miss was in a particularly bad mood today. She shouted at him to hurry up and sit down at his desk at the front of the class where she could see him. It was not long into the class before Derren’s mind began to wander. He wished he were somewhere else or in another class with a kindly teacher Miss Hall who taught him last year. Miss Hall always smiled at him and encouraged him. Suddenly, Derren jumped in fear and anxiety at the sharp inflection of Miss Frost’s voice. “DERREN! WILL YOU PAY ATTENTION AND FACE FRONT!” His face flushed with embarrassment and he felt hot tears fill his eyes. The class continued. The sound of the girls sniggering behind made Derren feel very self conscious indeed! He looked round and was faced with tongues poked out. Again, he jumped in terror as Miss shouted those words angry words “DERREN! Go and stand in the corner and face the wall!”
Break time came, but Miss did not allow Derren to go outside with the other children. He was made to sit in the class alone. This was made worse in the afternoon when the class was taken to the school hall to watch a TV programme about maths. Not Derren though, he was left behind in the classroom as punishment along with Libby whom he was forced to sit next to. He didn’t like Libby very much and he was sure Miss made him sit next to her on purpose. When the children returned, he really felt left out as the class enthusiastically did the sums that he could not understand. Derren never did find out what it was everyone else learned that day.
As a 47 years old man, married to Susan, Derren was contented with his life. A “run of the mill” office job was by no means perfect but it paid the rent. He loved his son Jack dearly and tried to bring him up to be well balanced. Faith played a big part in the family. Caring for people rated highly in Derren’s life and he was part of the pastoral team at his local church. One Sunday morning, Pastor Jenkins asked Derren if he would go visit the hospice on his behalf this week. The Pastor had a very busy week ahead. Derren agreed. Taking Thursday off work would not prove to be a problem.
Doing the rounds at the hospice, listening to the folk and praying for them came fairly naturally to Derren. One of the nurses told him about a particular lady who had arrived this morning and seemed to be very withdrawn. He made a special note to spend a bit of extra time with this lady. Entering the room, he was struck by the sun shining in through the window and the warm pastel colours. A single card sat on the bedside table. He approached the lady sat in the chair, her face lined, grey hair tied back and a blanket across her legs. He wondered what lay behind the dark sunken, distant eyes. Introducing himself, he sat in the wooden chair beside this lady and waited patiently for her to speak. It was a long while before words left her mouth. All he heard until then was the rasping sound of her breath. In a matter of fact way she said “I have cancer, lung cancer”.
A brief pause “I’m sorry, may I pray for you”.
“If you wish. I don’t see as it will make much difference”
Derren closed his eyes and prayed.
“May I ask your name?”
“Do you have any family?”
“Only my brother. It’s him that sent me the card… for what its worth.”
Another long pause, Derren waited patiently for Sandra to speak trying to make eye contact with her in a gentle and non instrusive way.
“I don’t have any children. I never married. Never had much time for men to be truthful.” Derren nodded inquisitively showing more interest.
“My brother is a successful architect. He always did well. My parents put him into private school and encouraged him. Pity they did not do that for me. I always felt second best in our family. It was always ‘Gerald’s done this, isn’t he wonderful’. I had to make my own way in life”.
Sandra’s eyes seemed to drop for a moment and an atmosphere of sadness seemed to settle up her. Derren noticed the greyness and the pink raw edges of her eyelids. Was that a tear appearing? Sandra gestured with her hands as she spoke and scratched her eyebrow. In an instant, the emotion was gone and her composure returned to that determined, hardened face he first encountered. She continued to talk for a while about the various recent domestic issues in her life. About 20 minutes passed. Derren spoke very little himself other than to ask short questions to prompt Sandra further. Finally, when conversation drifted toward an end, he gently told Sandra that it was time for him to leave and said that he would be happy to come visit her again if she wished. For the first time in the encounter, Sandra made eye contact with him. Her eyes searched his and very quietly she said “Thank you…. For you kindness”. Derren got up to leave and walked toward the door. Something made him stop and turn to ask just one more question. “Sandra, you never told me what you did for a living”.
She once again looked him directly in the eye. “I was a school teacher”.

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  • Incredible story Marty. Well written and really touched my. I could absolutely relate to that. What blessings a the end too. Perfect video to accompany it. THANK YOU. Chrissy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Dec 30, 06:41:00 PM GMT  

  • It takes nothing to be kind but more often than not people prefer to be unkind. I am sure that people dont realise that it hurts the person you are unkind too and that it hurts the giver as well it becomes ingrained and takes away enjoyment of everything . Untill it become all consuming and like cancer gets into the body destroying the life in the soul. So the peson that was the recipiant in the first place can shrug it off if they are lucky, but the giver goes on and on untill it consumes them and ruins their life and takes away life itself. XXX Don

    By Blogger ascu75 aka Don, at Fri Dec 31, 10:23:00 AM GMT  

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