Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Women's Conference last month, Part 1

I had a day off last month and got to attend the Detroit archdiocese's women's conference. Two of the speakers really hit home: Bishop Daniel Flores and Immaculée Ilibagiza. In the spirit of chivalry, I'll offer my thoughts on the lady first.
She started with a joke: "I see so many women, I want to talk about shoes!" Applause. "Or husbands, or children, and you want me to talk about holocausts."
She survived the Rwandan holocaust by living--if it could be called that--in a 3' x 4' bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. They couldn't flush the toilet unless someone flushed the other in the house simultaneously. Their protector, the owner of the house, had to scavenge through the trash to find food so the servants wouldn't guess. They couldn't speak to each other and there wasn't room to sit down.
What did they do when someone filled the toilet? Or was menstruating? I suspect that ground to a halt with the near-starvation they endured, but early on...

There were neighbors--neighbors, the kind of person you used to wave to over the fence, or borrow a cup of sugar from, or visit to talk about television or children or the weather--who stood in front of the house and called her by name so they could butcher her with a machete.

After her release, she and other survivors were being escorted (on foot) to a safe zone, but before they arrived, their escorts were to leave. She stared down a man with a machete while armed with only a rosary. He backed away, humbled, and dropped the machete as he walked off. That rosary, the last gift her father gave her, was what got her through. She prayed constantly while in the bathroom. Once she counted how many times in a day she said that prayer, and it was 27.

And she forgave them. For trapping her in the bathroom, for killing all of her schoolmates, for killing her family, destroying her home. For all of it.

If she can forgive those who were trying to kill her, who forced her into that situation in order to survive, I can be a little more generous with my own forgiveness. Like letting go of the fact that my mother never played Candyland with us. Or went over our homework with us, or a million other omissions over thirty-six years.
I can forgive another person... but that's a whole 'nother post. I can let go of wrongs of years ago, quit playing the "What if?" game, torturing myself over events that never even happened.

Mark Shea has called the Christian teaching on forgiveness the most scandalous, the most challenging, the most difficult. He's right.
I'm waiting for Immaculée's book in the mail. I'll let you know on that.

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At 6:23 AM, Blogger Kasia said...

If you want to borrow my copy in the meantime, just say the word...


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