This past week I had the pleasure of attending a U2 concert at Giant’s Stadium. I started seeing U2 while I was in high school and have only missed one tour since. As such, I was very excited to attend. With the exception of arriving home at 2 am and feeling a bit, *cough* under the weather on Friday morning, the experience was positive…for me.
A friend of mine also went to the show but his after concert experiences were slightly different. Generosity got him to the show (his tickets were free) and generosity got him back to NY from the venue in NJ (he was offered a ride from strangers and took it). It is what happened after that which is troubling.
After leaving a bar later that night, my friend was physically assaulted and robbed by 6 unsavory characters. This guy was not a wall street type and no one was going to get rich off of this mugging. Bob Dylan once referenced the “freedom” which accompanies being poor when he sang “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to loose.” I don’t think that is entirely true. When something like that happens, you may not loose much materially, but can certainly loose faith in humanity.
After the mugging, something right out of a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie happened. My friend found his way to a diner, started crying, and the owner of the diner bought him breakfast, “This one is on me,” he said. What a contrast, going from having your faith in humanity shaken to having it restored by one simple gesture.
Those of us who grew up in a Christian religion no doubt learned the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father as children. There is one line in that prayer which sheds some insight into this event, “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Three things are going on in this line. First, we admit that we will trespass against other people not just once or twice, but throughout our lives. The prayer is not written in the past tense but in the present tense (and arguably in the future tense). Second, we ask forgiveness for these crimes committed by us against others. Finally, we acknowledge that others will commit crimes against us in our lives. Inherent in this last line is that in order for us to be forgiven for the wrongs we have committed against others, we must be willing to forgive those who have wronged us.
Amazingly, my friend has recovered positively from this experience keeping a strong attitude and his faith in humanity. I am not sure I would be able to do the same.
As I think about the diner owner, I am reminded by lyrics to Trip Through Your Wires, a U2 song that was not played last Thursday night.
“I was cold and you clothed me honey
I was down and you lifted me honey”
Perhaps, the story of my friend is not just about how it is our duty to forgive others if we indeed seek forgiveness ourselves. Maybe it is about playing the role of the diner owner more frequently in our lives. We all know that there will be no shortage of people in this world who have been wronged by others. When they come across our path, we have a decision to make; shall we be like the diner owner and take them in or just keep walking on by? I am going to make a conscious effort to be more like the diner owner. From now on, you can call me Mel, just don’t tell me to kiss your grits.