The coffee shop was atypically quiet this early spring morning.
The usual hordes of people were missing.
The only thing breaking the silence was the casual banter between the sleep-deprived baristas behind the counter, who had been there since 4:00 a.m., and John Prine singing about “Summer’s End” on satellite radio.
My cell phone was off—witness to the viral infection that has savaged my respiratory system for four days running.
It’s hard to talk when one’s throat is raw.
Harder still when a fit of coughing interrupts every other sentence.
My computer had been left in its case at home because I just didn’t feel like writing.
So with no phone, no computer and no friends with whom to carry on a conversation, what is left for one to do?
Among the possibilities presented by my quite active imagination—such as a very creative art piece using only the wooden stir stick and raw sugar packets from the condiment table—was the notion to just sit and think.
What a concept.
I did a lot of staring at first, which caused no small amount of consternation to the only other patron who just happened to be within my field of vision.
Then a thread began to emerge.
I don’t know about you, but when threads of thought appear, I cannot just let them be. I start tugging and tugging in an attempt to see where the straggly things will lead.
Mainly I thought about all the people throughout my life in whom I had placed my hope; my trust; and how pitifully few of those folks had actually come through for me.
It’s a big crew.
Local and national political leaders; church leaders; publishers; record label execs; family members; friends…
As I said, it’s a big crew.
Should I care to invest the emotional energy to do so, I could summon a quite extensive complaint against each and every one of them.
But, to what end?
Then I thought about all the people who had placed their hope, indeed, their trust in me, and how many of them I’ve let down.
Should they care to invest the emotional energy to do so…they could summon a quite extensive complaint against me.
This brought me around to thinking about the subject of forgiveness.
Someone far more sage in their wisdom than I said once that forgiveness is not for the one being forgiven, but rather for the one doing the forgiving.
It made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now.
So I bundled up my legion of offenders and pronounced forgiveness upon them jointly and severally.
It felt quite good.
If you want to know the truth, it felt great!
In fact, it felt, well, freeing.
A very smart guy from Tarsus who lived in the first century said once in a letter that it is for freedom that we have been set free.
Sadly, most of us live in a sort of managed bondage, held there by cords of offense and unforgiveness.
I blinked my eyes and was surprised to see a line of customers stretching nearly to the door.
I smiled, gathered up my morning paper and headed for the exit only to be waylaid by a guy who said, “Hey, do I know you?”
It was the fellow who thought I was staring at him earlier.
“No, sir, I don’t believe you do,” I said pleasantly in reply.
He nodded silently before saying, “Right. Okay, just checking.”
Once out the door and heading for my car I looked back over my shoulder and saw the guy still watching me.
It was probably going to bother him all day.