Last week I heard the story of Mary Johnson. She is a remarkable woman who forgave the young man who shot her son. In fact, she founded an organization, "From Death To Life" with the mother of the killer and she calls that young man, her spiritual son.
I cannot even fathom what emotions she went through to get to this place of forgiveness much less to a place of reaching out to others. But it gives me hope.
The part of the story that encourages me is that only after she went through the process of forgiveness and only after she had established her organization was she able to move on. At one of her speaking engagements, she met a gentleman who had reluctantly attended her talk. He had lost his son to murder as well. They connected through the common ground of loss and forgiveness and developed a relationship.
Who knows if Mary would have found Ed regardless of the circumstances in her life, but certainly his and her path converged after their individual tragedies. Mary and Ed wed in 2015 and her spiritual son was a part of their wedding. What a story of redemption of loss.
I love the stories of beauty coming from ashes. It reminds me of the stories of the plants that grow and in some cases thrive in the aftermath of a forest fire. Such are the pines of the northwest. Their cones are very thick and hard and do not release their seeds easily. It is only through the heat of the fire which melts the containing resin that allows the seeds to be released. It is then that new plants can grow.
There are other plants, such as mules' ears and iris which store their energy in their bulbs and roots. When the fire decimates the landscape, these plants thrive in the nutrients produced by the ash and are one of the first to bloom.
These stories remind me that there can be redemption out of destruction. Certainly there is loss, no doubt about it, and it is significant. But, we don't have to stay in the place of loss. We can find the beginnings of growth and a new future.
What about you? Are there things in your life that are preventing you from growing or blooming? Is it due to a devastating tragedy or extremely difficult situation? Has it paralyzed you with bitterness? Do all you see is destruction and loss? Can you see a glimmer of something good that might have arisen? Is there any hope of forgiveness?