This is a combination post of Patron of the Week, where I bestow one of our lucky patrons at our local library with the honor (usually in a humorous manner as evidenced by the graphic I have chosen, but this week in a more serious manner), and Flashback Friday, where I use an abbreviated form of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Examen to look back on the previous week.
This week’s Patron of the Week came to the library counter as any other patron, with my first question: “How may I help you?” Usually eight times out of 10, the patron is only returning a book, but a couple of times out of that 10, the patron also is paying a fine. In this case, it was a little of both.
He/she said he/she was returning a book that was taken out 20 years ago and leaving a little money with it (in an envelope that contained about $30). He/she said he/she was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and that part of his/her going through the 12-step program was making amends.
It actually is broken into two steps:
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9. Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I told him/her that our director gladly would take his/her book and then asked him/her to leave a note, with his/her name and phone number. He/she did leave the note, but without the phone number. As curiosity got the best of me, I did skim the note to see what he/she said, which basically was that he/she had stolen the book 20 years previously and now felt this was something he/she could correct. He/she also asked for forgiveness.
The book itself was a little musty, according to my supervisor, but no worse for wear, so she had it added back into the collection.
This brings me to what I am least grateful for this past week: a pastor from my hometown who was charged (again, 20 years after being charged and convicted of the same crime with multiple victims) with deviate sexual intercourse with a juvenile boy. Without going into details, our family know him and the boy (and possibly boys – further charges may be pending) who was molested.
In the past, the pastor has asked for forgiveness – from those in his church flock (a handful of those who stayed behind after the first time) and maybe even his wife, children, siblings and parents, although of that I am not certain. In the case of the church flock, I think the parishioners there granted him that forgiveness. I can’t speak for his family.
Who I can speak for is myself and the boys in the distant and recent past whom he has molested: I will not forgive.
In Spike Lee’s movie Do The Right Thing, Radio Raheem riffs the following, a tribute to Robert Mitchum’s infamous character Harry Powell in the movie Night of the Hunter:
“Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love.”
But Radio Raheem doesn’t end his speech there. He ends on this note:
“If I love you, I love you. But if I hate you…”
With the unsaid striking the viewer right in the chest.
At this moment, for better or for worse, most likely the latter, I feel like the captain in the movie 300 to which King Leonidas says after the captain’s son is killed:
“My heart is broken for your loss.”
To which the captain replies:
“Heart? I have filled my heart with hate.”
And King Leonidas then concludes:
Unlike in the movie, though, I have no army against which to direct my hate but only the pastor who sits in a prison cell in lieu of $75,000 bail (unless his family has forgiven him again and posted his bail like it did the first time, from what I understand) and whom neither I nor his victims can reach with our left hands.