First, an obituary for Eric Lomax, tortured by the Japanese during WWII. Many years later, Lomax found a picture of the Japanese interpreter, Takashi Nagase, who had been involved in his torture.
For two years Lomax did nothing. Then he obtained a translation of Nagase’s memoir, which explained how shame had led the interpreter to create a Buddhist shrine beside the death railway. Patti Lomax then wrote to Nagase, enclosing her husband’s photograph and suggesting that perhaps the two men could correspond. She asked: “How can you feel 'forgiven’, Mr Nagase, if this particular Far Eastern prisoner-of-war has not yet forgiven you?”You'll need to read the obituary to find out what happens. (Or you can wait til next May when Railway Man is released as a film staring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.)
But I was struck by that notion that you cannot feel forgiven if the person you have wronged hasn't forgiven you.
That same day I saw a video of Brene Brown, talking about going back to church "for the wrong reasons"--to get away from pain. Instead, she found that the church was a midwife, not an epidural. She describes how the dean of her church explained that "In order for forgiveness to really happen, something has to die." She goes on to say that in her research, there are two emotions that people fear the most: shame and grief. "And so, if something has to die in order for forgiveness to happen, and people are deathly afraid to feel grief, then we just won't forgive anybody, because I don't want to feel grief."
As I said: pondering.