Religion Magazine

Grief and Forgiveness

By Nicholas Baines

This is the text of this morning's Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

Prince Charles in Ireland

Prince Charles's speeches in Ireland this week have been profoundly moving. It seems to me that he did three things.

Firstly, he identified with the suffering of Ireland over centuries and, particularly, more recently. He said simply that the island of Ireland “has had more than its fair share of turbulence and troubles.” Secondly, he set his own personal suffering in the context of a complex mix of politics, economics, tribalism and nationalisms. And, thirdly, he recognised the reality of pain and grief – borne by so many – whilst opening up the possibility of what an American theologian calls “newness after loss”.

The murder of Lord Mountbatten in 1979 struck to the heart of the British establishment, but for those involved in the bereavement, it was always more than a political matter. As Prince Charles put it: “It seemed as if the foundations of all that we held dear in life had been torn apart irreparably.” He had already spoken of the “anguish of such deep loss.”

This is the conundrum, isn't it? The political and the global collide with the individual and the private. Which is how grief always works – often biting through the veneers of self-sufficiency we paint on to the scars of bereavement and helplessness, and awakening the pain of personal loss in the face of a community's need to move on.

I think what the events of this week suggest is that the only way to tackle grief and the rage of injustice is for us to face those who were a part of it. In the famous Yad Vashem memorial to the Warsaw Uprising during World War Two one of the bronze reliefs depicts the Nazi guards without faces – apparently because to have given them faces would have meant humanising them. But, I thought that was actually the point. It was human beings – with faces and stories and families and hopes and dreams and regrets – who caused unimaginable pain to people who could not defend themselves. It is what we are seeing in Syria and Iraq as IS target innocent people with extreme violence and inhumane brutality.

What Tuesday's meeting demonstrated – backing up words with handshakes – was that violence and death do not have to have the final word. Realistic forgiveness – however long it takes and however immense the personal or communal cost – opens the door for all parties to be set free for a future that looked closed. Which is why, in the Lord's Prayer, any expectation of forgiveness by God is inextricably linked to my forgiving those who have grieved me.

Reconciliation is not easy and is never cost-free. The German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer cried against notions of what he called “cheap grace”. But, it is in the cost of looking a person in the eye that freedom is secured – freedom to live again.

Posted with Blogsy
Posted with Blogsy

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Email Marketing Best Practices That You Should Know

    In 1971, the first email was sent, since then email has become the preferred means of communication. Today, email is a primary driver of communication between... Read more

    9 hours, 58 minutes ago by   Sem Seo
    BUSINESS, MARKETING & ADVERTISING, SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Poland Poll: What Should Jonny Do in May 2018?

    Poland Poll: What Should Jonny 2018?

    Hey everyone! Apologies for not updating this blog so much recently. Life has been so busy. I have been inundated with new projects, I backpacked to Saudi... Read more

    10 hours, 54 minutes ago by   Northernirishmaninpoland
    COMMUNITY, DESTINATIONS
  • Hey Bulldog - Video Of The Week

    Bulldog Video Week

    Brian's favourite video this week is Al Lupo by Hey Bulldog. Like many bands before, Hey Bulldog began as a germ of an idea of main man Rob Manton. Read more

    11 hours, 33 minutes ago by   Mike Lindley
    ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC
  • Shelf Chat: What's Up With Me (Summer Lane!), and What's On My Shelf

    Shelf Chat: What's With (Summer Lane!),

    If you're too busy to read...you're too busy! I've always been one of those people who likes to fill their days and weeks up with activities. I work, I schedule... Read more

    11 hours, 36 minutes ago by   Selane
    BOOKS, CREATIVITY
  • #MaxYourLook with MaxFashion

    #MaxYourLook with MaxFashion

    Every season I tend to fall in love with the prints. The scourching heat is an excuse for me to play with the prints. Keeping it cool with the vibrant options... Read more

    12 hours, 14 minutes ago by   Chayanikarabha
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE, SHOPPING
  • Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies (Gluten Free, Paleo + Vegan)

    Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies (Gluten Free, Paleo Vegan)

    Pin Share Tweet Email Yum StumbleShares 0These Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies are soft, fudgy, and incredibly chocolatey! These irresistible cookies are... Read more

    12 hours, 21 minutes ago by   Rachel Conners
    DINING OUT, FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES, TRAVEL
  • Tree Peonies

    Tree Peonies

    For a brief and glorious moment . . . Read more

    13 hours, 36 minutes ago by   Vickilane
    CREATIVITY, PHOTOGRAPHY