I used to feel like that. What day did someone close to me pass away? What event happened on a particular day that might have had some affect on something I was doing? I can recall the feeling when I wore a baseball glove for the first time. The smell of fresh leather, and the aroma of the oil to loosen the glove. I can still remember the first L.A. Dodger game I attended with my family; watching Steve Garvey play first base. The taste of a famous Dodger Dog. Relish and mustard, of course. My first new bike that was pink; and how I soared the mean streets of Porter Ranch, CA, and upscale neighborhood where you played outside all day.
Then there are the days you want to forget. MLK being shot. Bobby Kennedy, Medgar Evans. You want to forget about the day your favorite next door neighbor passed away. My brother Paul has informed me that while my parents were watching the televised funeral of LBJ, I was dancing around exclaiming "We should have a party". Apparently my Mother was very annoyed with such a suggestions, being the Democratic she was. How was I to know at such a young age, the LBJ would turn out to be one of the worst and most corrupt presidents in history. But, back to the real purpose of the blog. You thought, "Death, it will never come this close to me again". You watch the news, and hear the horrific stories of children murdered by their parents and what they must be feeling; the survivors of those families. You remember the space shuttle exploding in 1986, and President Reagan's eloquent epitaph that night, on the news. Our lives are like patchwork quilts, and every little event that happens along the way is just another little square in our life.
I still recall March 1995 when my own personal hero, my beloved Daddy died and the anger and hate I had towards God. It ate at me all night. I walked the beach at one point, in the rain, listening to the crashing of the waves, the sound of the pounding surf and screaming in my soul as to why God could take my Daddy from me. No answer came. At least not that day; nor in the way I intended it.
So, where do you go when you harbor hate and anger towards someone who takes the life of someone else? Where does that emotion go? Do you stuff it deep inside, down deep, in the bowels of your body so that it might go away? Does it sit in your gut, or at the back of your throat? Where? Surely, no one can proclaim an exemption from it. If they say it - they're only fooling themselves.
2 days after learning about my sweet sister's Christie Appel's death (pseudo sister) I was mad. Mad as a hatter. Mad as a crazy jaybird in a jail cell, trapped by bars. I was mad. I wanted someone to hurt as much as I felt at that very moment. I wanted someone to feel the pain I felt. Writing it now, I sound selfish, self absorbed and selfish.
I started to talk to God. I talked to my departed Daddy, and yes, I talked to Chris. These 3 sources of excellent information all told us the same thing throughout their lives. FORGIVENESS. It's a tough "F" word to swallow. Where does HATE go, and how does FORGIVENESS come in? Are they like dueling emotions that play a game with our heart strings, and ping pong back and forth, causing emotions to reach the point of just this side of sanity?
Elie Wiesel, as some of you may know, is one of my favorite writers. And for some of you (I really hope alot of you know this) Mr. Wiesel is a survivor of the death camps of Hitler. He lost everything. His entire family - gone. Another man I think of often is Brother Peter O.S.B. who survived the torture camps in Communist China for refusing to relinquish his faith in Our Lord. The Abbey where Brother Peter resides, St. Andrew's Abbey, in Valyermo, CA is also the monastery where my father was laid to rest. To listen to Brother Peter's stories, through his numerous books, and more remarkably, to actually see the PHYSICAL SCARS given to him via his Chinese captors, you might be left with the question - How do these men forgive? Isn't it the scriptural saying on how its "divine to forgive"? And aren't we all just fallible spirits walking around waiting to reach the other side?
I thought about Keith & Mike Appel and their surviving families throughout this last week. They not only suffered the loss of their mother, but their father as well. I am not saying nor implying that what Larry did was right. But I can't judge him. I'm not God. I can honestly say I hated him for a good 36 hours. Not him personally, but what he did. But then it occurred to me. That hate, that anger, that resentment...was it affecting Larry? No. Who was it hurting? Me.
If there is a lesson (of the dozens and dozens that dear sweet Chris taught us) , was that life must be filled with forgiveness. Life is too damn short to carry around bitter feelings, hatred towards someone, when ultimately it eats only us. Chris left us with a "set of guidelines" through her book, "Christian's Story". She left us with lessons in her simple acts of grace, daily forgiveness, loving encouragement and undying love for her Lord.
In the end, I'd rather honor the life of the woman who taught me so much through life then to hold on to one more second of anger. I rejoice because she is now my angel in heaven
I wish that, with the grace of God and with the assistance of our heavenly loving Mother and all the Saints, all of us will continue to do our best to heed, to answer and to follow Christ’s call. His vocation for us is generally the same but individually different. May we do it as well as we can until we arrive at the end of our pilgrimage of faith! Thus, all of us will enter His Kindgom and see His face for ever and ever! This should be our common and joyful ending and hope so well described in the Chinese proverb: Reaching the same goal by different roads!
That is all!
Many thanks to all of you for listening with great patience!
Br. Peter Zhou Bang-Jiu, O.S.B.