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The morning’s golden rays

April 7, 2014

Early this morning I got to sit outside on the porch and watch golden rays across the skies in its beauty and ever changing shapes.  A lovely reflection of God’s artwork in many lives here in Belfast.  The shape of situations change and there is often beauty, but we sometimes fail to experience it.

DSC_0259 (2)

Picture of sunrise in Belfast

This week within counseling, I got to experience one of those golden moments.  With kids having more than one emotional upset, Britt’s bag being lost {and found!}, a new course starting at the Mission, and other stresses of life, I think God wrapped me in His embrace and reassured the heart of why we do what we do.  Working with one client for the past two years, a former paramilitary member, we have come to a great working relationship.  Despite our differences, there is respect and understanding.

We talked about forgiveness and remembered a certain father (Gordon Wilson) who publicly forgave the men that planted a bomb, killing his daughter, at a Memorial Day Service in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in 1987.  That happens to be my home place and I remember the day that dreadful bomb exploded, killing 11 civilians.  Wilson’s response to the bombing, which was broadcast around the world, was a huge shock to many in this community – “I bear no ill will.  I bear no grudge.”  Gordon Wilson was a sincere and devoted Christian who served his family and community well.  He was also our neighbour and a man who continued to speak out for peace and forgiveness until he died.   For a father to come to a place of peace in his own loss and pain was the man my family knew him to be.

Mr. Wilson’s modeling of forgiveness, though inspiring to some ears, was also surprising, shocking, and even revolting to others.  For my client, hearing Wilson’s plea for peace on television, was sickening.  He looked at me with such harshness, as he bellowed, “Alison, it made me sick to see him [offer forgiveness]”, “how could a father forgive the scum who murdered his daughter?”, “he was nothing but a stupid ### to forgive those IRA murdering ####”.

Vicious language is hard for me to grasp.  It was especially hard since it was about someone I knew growing up.   I also know that forgiving anyone or anything seems so far removed from any common sense place.  But I also know that this client knew very little of what it is to be offered second chances, to be offered hope or to be offered a new possibility.  Can God re-shape his story and create beauty in the place of darkness?

I began to share with him a little of what I believe forgiveness to be.  We talked and listened a lot to each other that day.  Forgiving is the means to let go, not because the other person ever deserves it, or accepts your forgiveness, but it is to let go off the angry twisted pain that chokes your own heart and leaves you drained and bitter and resentful for the rest of your life.

His tense body began to ease.  This is a man who is so full of hurt.  He is angry toward himself, God, his own life and relationships.  What is it like for him to take all his own guilt, shame and hatred and let it go? What is it like for him to seek something more life giving?  To seek to forgive and be forgiven?

Spring daffodils

Golden daffodils

To forgive is a powerful act and one we all battle with.  Sometimes our minds return to the same situation and hurt, and we must decide to forgive again and again.  I sat this week and felt the great power of God opening the eyes to one who held a gun and committed crimes and begin to do a work of change within his life.  This was a golden moment for sure.   I love to seat with him each week in this place.  Beautiful privilege.  It was a real embrace from God to me and, I also believe to my hate-fueled client who is softening and being changed.  His response the following few days was, “I would like to shake his {Mr. Wilson’s} hand.  Because he is a better man than I”.  Moments of golden rays sprinkling all over our messy lives.  God, is indeed here.

 

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Drew permalink
    April 8, 2014 2:29 am

    Thank you Allison for this beautiful message…..I know God sent it along to me thru you as I have been struggling with a much smaller problem than described, but very important to me as my sister in law accused me of some terrible things a few months ago and now she wants to be my friend and acts as if she never said anything (not only to me but others in the family)……..so we have decided maybe she was on some medication to cause her to act so ……….my problem is making myself forget and forgive as there was much hurt from it
    but after reading your message, I know I can do it with God’s help and guidance!!!

    Still miss you and Britt at First Methodist thanks Barbara Drew

  2. Debbie Mitchell permalink
    April 8, 2014 1:58 pm

    Thank you Alison for these beautiful words and images.

    Debbie Mitchell Pastors’ Assistant First United Methodist Church 142 E Jackson Street Orlando, FL 32801 407.849.6080 x107 FirstChurchOrlando.org

    On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 7:13 PM, Pitching a tent in Belfast wrote:

    > Britt and Alison Gilmore posted: “Early this morning I got to sit > outside on the porch and watch golden rays across the skies in its beauty > and ever changing shapes. A lovely reflection of God’s artwork in many > lives here in Belfast. The shape of situations change and there is often > bea”

  3. Candie permalink
    April 8, 2014 6:12 pm

    A beautiful message on forgiveness. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We continue to pray for you and Britt in your ministry there and for your family.

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