There's a small piece of parchment paper that I keep on my writing desk. I'm holding it here. Everyday I look at it as I sit down to read, gather my thoughts, and write. If I hold it up to the light just right, I can believe every word.
I found it at a rummage sale down the road from where I grew up in the country - barely a mile from home - in a box of old diaries, records and journals from the seventies. I took the whole box home with me. In it were treasures of a young girl's thoughts - her favorite quotes, her original poems, scrapbooks painstakingly written and typed on old typewriter font, love poems, secrets, and words such as these from the courageous Anne Frank. I felt privileged, and a bit guilty,to peer into the heart and mind of another seventies girl I never knew, but who could have easily been my soul-sister, had I known she lived just down the road.
Fast-forward forty-five years.
And I am holding the same thin paper, so beautifully detailed. It is almost like new, and I begin to read... I still believe that people are really good at heart.... and I feel a giant, stubborn lump swell up in the throat of me, because I cannot continue, I cannot read on, I cannot absorb it - I cannot believe it.
But Anne, I say, there are lovely people being shot in places of worship. In Charleston, South Carolina. While they were praying. Didn't you hear? Atrocities done by the hand of 'people'... people called humans, like me and like you, the same species of which you speak, slaughtering and killing, hating and maiming without remorse. Where are these other people, Anne, of which you speak? Are we to be divided into those who have souls and those who don't? Or do you mean to say, really, surely, that all people aren't really good at heart?
What I see in my world is not good, Anne, it is evil.
And I want to stop with the Pollyanna platitudes if you don't mind.
Anne is not pleased with me. Neither is the seventies flower-power girl.
Neither am I.
There's a war going on inside of me you see.... You feel it too, don't you?
People are not just randomly killing each other, there is attention for my soul. The axe keeps falling on the root of my beliefs. With each new horrible news story, each new morality debate, I retreat a little further into cynicism, swimming in daily reality checks, and trying to fit words like bigotry, white supremacy, evil, terror, hate, murder into a jigsaw puzzle with hope, forgiveness, God, mercy, grace and love.
"Look, Mimi", she whispered. "I said you had to look for it."
And in my stubborn heart a question railed: Do you believe in the power of words or not?
Do you believe in God or not? Do you believe what you say you believe...or not?
I remembered the woman who stood face-to-face with that fresh-faced killer in Charleston last week. You remember her, don't you? I will never, ever, forget her. In a courtroom of justice, swallowed and sick with grief, she looked into the face of the most heinous of people among us and said to the evil, "I forgive you." And once again another uttered,
"We have no room for hate. We have to forgive."
The weight of those words broke the divide.
The lump in my throat came pouring down my cheeks, because thank God, thank God, Anne was right. There are people like that. They do walk among us.
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