In the office I bumped into a colleague who shared with me her take on a very intense meeting that occurred the afternoon before. There was plenty to rail about: non-clarity of expectations, conflict of values and priorities, abused feelings, loss of trust.
Then DG, one of my students, walked in. He was carrying a small container filled with a half dozen eggs. He lightly bowed and presented the half dozen to me. He had been talking about his chickens all year– specifically his Delawares and Barred Rocks. He had promised to bring me eggs before, but how appropriate that he offered them to me today. Eggs, afterall, are new beginnings, fresh starts. DG reminded me that before eating them I needed to clean them off.
Of course, my colleague and I stopped our conversation with DG’s entrance, which had already taken the energy down a few notches. And then the discussion about eggs (the lighter-colored ones are from his chicken Lois, one of the Delawares) diffused the energy even more. I kept wondering if my colleague was getting the sacred message being telegraphed very loudly to the both of us. I mean, how often do kids walk into school, in the middle of a bustling metropolis, with eggs for their teacher, taken from the student’s very own chickens that very morning. Maybe somewhere in Iowa, but Chicago?
As humans we are entirely imperfect: stumbling, tripping, bumping into walls, sometimes like chickens with our heads cut off. And sometimes when we trip, we don’t blame our own clumsiness but rather others whom we suspect have placed obstacles in our path (and sometimes they have). And how easy it is to drag others with us as we tumble.
Forgiving is not really the issue. Forgiveness can be too off-hand, even meaningless, may achieve very little. It is repairing that is the issue. This is our most important work. We need to get our hands dirty in the hard and creative work of repairing relationship. Definitely not “over easy”.
Otherwise, there are no journeys. Otherwise, we are stuck. Otherwise, all we do is rail.