This past week I signed my girls up for vacation bible school for three evenings at my best friend’s Methodist Church. Her kids go every summer and they‘re very active in their church. We’re not Methodist, but it’s a very friendly church and there isn’t any catechism. The kids get to learn some bible stories, lessons from them, and they get to do some crafts and activities related to them.
Of course it was hotter than Satan‘s armpit this week so the activities were toned down, especially since there wasn’t any air conditioning. To give you an idea how hot it was, when we left at 9 PM and it was dark outside, it was still 90*F. I didn’t ask what the indoor temperature was because frankly I didn’t want to know. The kids’ room had fans set up so they were comfortable. Plus they had the snacks and drinks. We had potluck supper before each meeting started, which the kids loved, so there was something for everyone. I’m always amazed at how when everyone brings a dish, there’s always enough for everyone. Fishes and loaves?
I somewhat lied. There was one air-conditioned room. The one for the adult bible studies. I was all over that. Yes, this Catholic girl had bible discussions with a bunch of Methodist girls. It was actually fun. We women got to color with crayons, do circle activities kind of reminiscent of Girl Scouts, and the last night we even made t-shirts representing our spiritual progress through the week. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed the week and how much I learned just through open discussion. Don’t get me wrong… I’m very learned about humanities studies and Christianity and specifically Catholicism (my denomination). But with each new discussion, especially when I have the discussion with new people, there’s a new dimension of understanding. I learned things from perspectives I hadn’t considered before and will look at things with a different eye from now on.
We studied the passages having to do with forgiveness and reconciliation and it was quite eye-opening. So much of what we discussed was relevant to my life. Jesus was pretty awesome. He was all about teaching us to forgive and why, and how to go about being forgiven. But not just with God; with our fellow neighbors whomever they are.
Our words and actions are so much more important than we give them credit for. They affect people. They hurt. They heal. Sometimes we inflict them intentionally, sometimes not. But we don’t ask for forgiveness nearly as often as we should. I know that I haven’t. It’s quite humbling to realize that you’ve hurt people and likely won’t get a chance to make reparations with many of them. I’ve always prided myself on being open-minded but there are times when perhaps my bluntness gets in the way and I end up sticking my foot in it.
I know I’m not perfect. I just did enough introspection to realize that I need a lot of forgiveness and that I need to do a lot more forgiving than has been in my life so far.