Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back at College

Well here I am again in NTC for a further week of reading and research into Journaling and mentoring as a means of reflective practice for holiness of life. Books, books and more books, Quoheleth was right when he said that '... There's no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you're no good for anything else.' Ecc 12:12. It is wearying but enjoyable none-the-less. What I'm hoping to do over the next few days is once again put up a few of the thoughts that I've found especially helpful. It's worth checking out, in my humble opinion, my blog on books read concerning Journaling and relflective practice for holiness of life.

Over this coming few days my hope is to try and pin down the subject in order that I can begin to write it up! The problem is that I have read very widely and have perhaps too much detail, focus, focus, focus! Always a problem!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Compassion He Didn't Deserve

As we approach spring and Easter we see the signs of new life appearing all around us. The promise of a fresh start is on the offing! Almost a year ago now, October last year to be exact, a handful of teen-agers in the USA put a series of dreadful actions into motion. After stealing a credit card they then used it to buy some DVDs and video games. From there they went to a supermarket and bought a series of items and then they hit the road. The worst event of the night was about to happen. One of them got the bright idea of throwing some of the things they had got at the supermarket at vehicles in the oncoming lane of traffic. One of the missiles he launched was a 20-pound frozen turkey! It doesn't take a genius to figure out the lethal damage something so heavy and so hard could do at motorway speeds. One could only hope nobody was hit by it.Victoria Ruvolo aged 45, was unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at that terribly wrong time.
The frozen bird came crashing through the windshield of her car and hit her flush in the face – shattering every bone in Ms. Ruvolo's face. She somehow survived her injuries! Then came two weeks of drug-induced coma, several surgeries, and months of rehabilitation. She suffers several permanent impairments from the trauma she suffered that night in November 2004.Just the other week she saw the young man who did her such harm for the first time. She was in court to witness the sentencing of 19-year-old Ryan Cushing.
With the multiple criminal charges initially lodged against him for the attack, Cushing could have been sentenced to as many as 25 years in prison.He got only six months in jail and five years probation. Now before you go ballistic about the leniency and irresponsibility of courts, you need to know that Ms. Ruvolo is the person responsible for the light sentence. She pressed the prosecution service to temper justice with compassion – in the hope that Ryan won't lose his adult years in prison because of his stupid, criminal behaviour that night. Part of her statement to the court read…

“Despite all the fear and the pain, I have learned from this horrific experience, and I have much to be thankful for…. Each day when I wake up, I thank God simply because I am alive. I sincerely hope you have also learned from this awful experience, Ryan. There is no room for vengeance in my life, and I do not believe a long, hard prison term would do you, me, or society any good…I truly hope that by demonstrating compassion and leniency I have encouraged you to seek an honourable life. If my generosity will help you mature into a responsible, honest man, whose graciousness is a source of pride to your loved ones and your community, then I will be truly gratified, and my suffering will not have been in vain….Ryan, prove me right.”

After sentence was pronounced, Ryan approached his victim to apologize. She embraced him and tried to comfort him while he sobbed his remorse. Although Ruvolo made no statement to the press, the boy's lawyer said she whispered to Ryan that she loves him and wants him to behave and enjoy his life."Had she taken a different position than she did," he said, "my client would have been incarcerated for many years. This to me is a very spiritual thing."Maybe Ryan learned that "turkey toss" is not a cute prank. and maybe the rest of us can be reminded that the mercy we have all received from God and other important people in our lives opens creative new options.

I marvel at such a story - Victoria, as her name would suggest, is an obvious victor in this event. I've been reading Becky Tirabassi's book 'Keep the Change' - breaking through to permanent transformation. Although primarily aimed at motivating the individual to a better life through contemporary coping techniques it is still very much Christian at heart. The appendix carries an excerpt from 'Change Your Life Daily Journal' which I have found challenging to say the least.
Her reflection, it seems, is based on the Lord's Prayer, '...forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us). Here in the Church of Scotland the general use of the 'debts' is prefered since the word 'trespass' doesn't hold the same meaning here as in the England in legal terms. The word 'sin' is the same though and perhaps this is what we should be using in this so called Post-modern pluralistic society.
It's nice to know that those who have wronged me though I am able to forgive, thanks to the grace of God, and in this open the door to future blessing in both our lives - but why is it so hard - knowing the theology is one thing - putting into practice is another, the Wesleyan idea of the Love Feast needs to be revived, I believe, in order that we all might have the opportunity of 'burying the hatchet' and opening the door to future blessing.

Prayer for forgiveness:
Thank you for Your forgiveness Lord, help me to forgive and open the door to blessing in both my life and in others that Your's will be the glory and the honour.