Truth is not something that will stay hidden for long. Truth needs air and light. Truth needs to be free. We can try and cover truth, but it will always battle to get what it needs. Truth will battle within us fighting to be heard and seen, to live and breathe. We will feel this battle in the cave of our hearts and if we choose to release truth, there becomes for us the possibility to experience living in the real and breathing air that is deep enough for peace.
In 1976, Simon Wiesenthal released a book called, The Sunflower. In it he tells of the story of his experience in the Lemberg Concentration camp. He was called to the bedside of a dying Nazi soldier who was dealing with a battle within. The soldier told him stories of the horrors he had participated in. He told him about the death of a family and how their faces haunted him. Then he asked Simon if he would forgive him on behalf of the Jewish people. Simon did not know this man. Though he was a Jewish man, he did not know what to say to him, so he said nothing, turned and left him alone in his hospital room.
Simon later questioned his decision. Within his book, The Sunflower: On the Limits and Possibilities of Forgiveness, he asks the question, “What would you have done?” to 52 incredible minds from around the world. The answers shared by these great thinkers provide for us insight on forgiveness. Yet, Simon’s project in and of itself is a recognition that within the cave of his heart there was truth that he needed to get out just as much as the soldier needed his story to be let out and his question of forgiveness to breathe.
There is a reality we live with as human beings. It is true that we will harm one another, disappoint one another, and often times pretend we have not. So often, we lock up our truth and live as if all of our wrongs will simply evaporate and never see the light of day. This sense of denial will leave us to deal with a quiet growing battle within—one we have no hope of winning unless we see our truth for what it is, face it, and give it air to breathe.
Confession has become a lost art today. Many people struggle to say, “I am sorry” for in doing so they admit what they know to be true and what the person they wronged often knows to be true, and that is that they were wrong. “I am sorry” are words so many people need to hear. This is what the dying Nazi soldier was expressing from the cave of his heart, “I am sorry, for all the wrongs I have done. I am sorry.” Whether it was for Simon to forgive him in that moment or not, the soldier’s words were breaking free. In letting them loose, he was moving closer to understanding his own humanity and opening up the potential for him to experience real peace. Confessing reminds us God is God and we are not.
It is good for us to reflect over the living of our days searching out the ways we have brought about harm in the life of another. As we tell our stories that lie hidden in the cave of our hearts we witness waves of peace and a greater understanding of who we are as human beings. As we confess to one another and to God, we can know that though others might struggle on the journey of forgiveness, God’s arms are always open to receive.
With you on the journey,