When you live in a small town, it often feels like you should be isolated from the problems found in cities. Sadly, it’s not true.
Yesterday Melissa Jenkins, a woman who was just a couple years behind me in high school, was kidnapped. The story made national news because her two-year-old son was left unharmed in the car with the engine running. The entire community waited on pins and needles for about 18 hours, hoping and praying that she would be found unharmed. Then, late yesterday afternoon her body was found.
It is all so reminiscent of the horrors of last summer with Evie. Learning that something terrible had happened; the awful waiting to find out if she would be okay; and then the realization that someone had taken deliberate action that led to her death. It is as incomprehensible to me now as it was nine months ago.
At times like this I am reminded that it is by the Universe’s good grace that any of us are here at all. Our very presence – every breath in and every breath out – is a miracle.
Today I spent a lot of time scouring the social media sites for messages about Melissa in order to do a story for the newspaper. The messages I saw were also reminiscent of what we saw after Evie’s murder: prayers for peace contrasted with calls for vengeance.
The words I wrote about Evie nine months ago ring just as true for me today. Tonight for the first time, I’m pulling something from the archives to re-post.
From June 30, 2011, this is “Walking My Talk“:
Apparently God is giving me an opportunity to practice my beliefs in a real-life situation.
In last night’s entry I made a brief mention of a friend who had been injured. She has been an extremely influential person in my life, and although I haven’t seen her much in the last few years, she remains very important to me.
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, her house was on fire. Although we don’t have specific details about her condition yet, the news is reporting her in “critical” condition. The details are extremely sketchy because the police aren’t saying anything except that the circumstances are suspicious. The attorney general and police major crimes unit are investigating.
All of which leads me to believe – absent of any details or confirmations – that someone took an action that caused this dear, wonderful woman to be seriously harmed.
Here’s where my beliefs get tested. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of forgiveness. I turned my own life around when I began to forgive myself for the things that I believed were terribly bad and wrong about myself. I have seen the miracle of instantaneous healings when people I work with forgive themselves and others. I truly believe that every bit of the bad behavior that we exhibit is a result of incorrect beliefs and judgments that we hold against ourselves. And those judgments and beliefs can be healed at the deepest levels with forgiveness…if we are willing to do the work. That’s a big if. Sometimes holding on to the beliefs, judgements, and accompanying fear feels a lot safer and easier than letting it go.
In light of all of this, I have always hoped that if I were faced with a situation where I had to choose between retribution & punishment or compassion & forgiveness, I would choose compassion and forgiveness. Because I would want that for the people I love. Because it feels better in my heart.
Until today, that theory has never been truly tested.
In the last day I have taken great comfort in re-reading passages from my favorite book, Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini. Here is a piece that keeps speaking very loudly to me:
“You have heard the expression ‘two wrongs do not make a right.’
To oppose, to seek to overpower or to argue with a false idea is to strengthen it. That is the way of violence. My way, on the other hand, is nonviolent. It brings love, not attack, to the ones in pain. Its means are consistent with its ends.
To make wrong is to teach guilt, and perpetuate the belief that pain and suffering are necessary. To make right is to teach love and demonstrate its power to overcome all suffering. To put it simply, you are never right to make wrong, or wrong to make right. To be right, make right.
You cannot love in an unloving way. You can’t be right and attack what’s wrong. Error must be undone. And since the root of all error is fear, only the undoing of fear will bring correction.
Love is the only response that undoes fear. This is true, not so much because love is an antidote to fear, but because fear is ‘the absence of love.’ It therefore cannot exist whenever love is present.”
I have said many prayers for my friend. Here is my prayer for myself – that God helps me to be strong enough and wise enough to be a voice of compassion and forgiveness in whatever happens next. That God will help me to put aside my own fears, doubts, and judgments. That God will help me to see in every person the spark of innocence they had as a baby – that spark may have been covered with fear, pain, and bad behavior, but a spark of innocence still resides inside each and every one of us. Please God, help me to release the desire to “be right” and embrace Your way of being: kind, compassionate, and loving.
If you feel inclined, please add your prayers for healing on every level for everyone involved. Thank you.