I was captivated by a recent TV interview of Maya Angelo. Her gentle persuasion and profound, compassion expressed in her want to teach resonated deeply with me. Her selection of words seemed to grip me with its passive-aggressive dare to love another. This was no ordinary interview… and this was no ordinary mind. If I wasn’t already on the edge of my seat, surely when she quoted Terence – I put the remote down. The quote: “I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me.”
These words are the key to both survival and community within the very heart and soul of humanity. Like Christ, who could sum up the will and laws of God with two basic commands to love God, and neighbor as yourself, Terence offers wisdom in our understanding of forgiveness. Although I passionately believe Christ has no equal, I have found a mentor in a slave turned success story from 170 B.C.E. As the words Maya quoted exposes a new awakening in my ever-broadening perspective that defines love of God and neighbor, I felt a new wholeness and sanity in our need to forgive. Humanity biologically shares a same nature and therefore each of us shares the capacity to do good or evil. Understanding our humanity, our full humanity, was a portion of Christ’s fearless message. Embracing the irresistible and love of Christ also involves embracing our neighbor. Christianity is a beautiful mess of forgiveness and hope. The words of Terence allows us to approach another’s offense knowing I am capable of that very same offense. Forgiveness allows for a healthier community perspective towards sin and the sinner. Forgiveness is humanity’s dare to love beyond whatever makes our skin crawl. However, forgiveness is only truly sane when it points to the hope of true restoration. Without hope, the heart is left unsatisfied, desperate, and yearning. Ultimately, Christ raises the bar implied by Terence challenging us to realize that sin is, in the end, an eternal offense against God while a temporary one against humanity. There is no “justice” in murder only punishment for the offender. While punishment intends to bring safety to community it does not bring a satisfying wholeness. Grief is our community’s burden – however, bitterness does not need to be. It is in the promised hope offered by a Savior that prompts the heart to release and forgive. My deepest want, like that of Maya’s challenge to love, is to be able to communicate the restorative capacity offered through Christ that awakens faith, enlightens hope, and overwhelms us with love.
God Bless you Maya and Terence.