First, the confession. I do not know what went down in Rwanda in 1994. And I can’t begin to comprehend the depth of the problems there.
That said, this article about a Rwandan woman has been haunting my mind ever since I read it in May of 2008.
In it, CNN interviews a woman who, through the shared activity of weaving baskets, came to forgive the man who slaughtered 7 of her family members during the Rwandan Genocide. And she sits next to the man’s wife while they weave baskets.
Let me say that again. She has forgiven the man who slaughtered her family. They live nearby and work together.
I do believe in forgiveness. But I also know that it’s one thing to forgive consciously, and quite another to reach forgiveness emotionally. One can say “I forgive” with their mouths while harboring deep resentment and anger. I can appear cool and collected on surface, yet fuming about petty little annoyance about my wife, my family, my co-workers, and so on.
Well, everything appears petty, compared to the act of killing your family.
Yet, this woman demonstrates that it is possible to forgive.
I don’t mean to trivialize the issue, but I have to wonder what the weaving brought to them. She said that it’s something they knew how to do. And as they sat and weaved, I wonder if it brought to the fore what they have in common — the need for reconciliation, the desire for healing and growth, an impulse to move forward.
I don’t know about you, but I seem to make my closest friends from working together. Through working on something, we share the common bond, we come to notice shared values, reflected in how we go about working.
We are not as different as we fear. For example, Christian, Jew and Muslim parents all love their children.
I am so fortunate to be spared from living through such atrocity. Yet, forgiveness is hard to achieve.
Forgiveness, emotionally, is a state one reaches only after processing and purging emotions that precede it. I can’t even begin to imagine the process she went through, before she reached her forgiveness.
But she’s done it. It’s possible.
Healing is possible.
Healing is possible.