Forgiveness Garden

Patty Griffin’s Forgiveness might be good background music for this post.

I’ve recently become fascinated with post WW2 Germany. Jewish survivors lived among their defeated persecutors while Allied forces occupied the nation. What were the results of these “close encounters?” Historian Atina Grossman writes in Jews, Germans, and Allies how “Jews were intergral participants in post-war Germany.” She examines how “Germans and Jews interacted and competed for Allied favor, benefits and victim status…”

So what does healing, forgiveness, or reconciliation look like in such a divided space? How could Jews move toward those who attempted to wipe out their race, and were not entirely unsuccessful? How could Germans acknowledge themselves as the enemy and repent when Allied forces immediately came and raped their women in mass? It seems impossible.

Corrie Ten Boom writes of her experiences in this space, and the small but blossoming hope she finds in a garden.

And, sure enough, in their own time and their own way, people

worked out the deep pain within them. It most often started, as Betsie

had known it would, in the garden. As flowers bloomed or vegetables

ripened, talk was less of the bitter past, more of tomorrow’s weather.

As their horizons broadened, I would tell them about the people living

in the Beje, people who never had a visitor, never a piece of mail.

When mention of the NSBers no longer brought on a volley of self righteous

wrath, I knew the person’s healing was not far away. And

the day he said, “Those people you spoke of-I wonder if they’d care

for some homegrown carrots,” then I knew the miracle had taken

place…And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than

on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He

tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the

love itself.

seeds are planted, preparations are made.

The garden grows and bears fruit

These pictures are of my Dad’s garden. I love the progression, and I wonder about all that has happened in between…

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3 responses to “Forgiveness Garden

  1. Mox,
    this is such a beautiful and powerful post. It’s amazing, the miracles that occur in the darkness — in the deep, beneath the surface…

    It is such a testament to the power of God, not man of making meaning and beauty rise from tragedy.

    The parallel to the garden reminds me of one of Wendell Berry’s shortest but most powerful poems:

    “The seed is in the ground.
    Now may we rest in hope
    While darkness does its work.”

    Hallelujah, my friend.

  2. I concur, Chili. I also like how planting something in the ground forces us to release control in many ways. We can water it and tend to it, but we can’t do the work ourselves.

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