Fika (Fee-ka) is a Swedish word describing a mid-morning or mid-afternoon break in the day. It’s also a concept, a state of mind, an attitude. For more on fika, read my introduction here. Grab a cuppa and something sweet and delicious. Even better – do it with someone else. Enjoy the story. Let it be the beginning of a conversation – with someone else, or yourself. Head over to my website and leave a comment if you want to. Enjoy.
“All in the family” by Rachel Naomi Remen
We can do violence to life in many ways. Many years ago, I was invited to hear a well-known Rabbi speak about forgiveness at a Yom Kippur service. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, when Jews everywhere reflect on the year just past, repent their shortcomings and unkindness, and hope for the forgiveness of God. But the rabbi did not speak about God’s forgiveness.
Instead, he walked out into the congregation, took his infant daughter from his wife, and, carrying her in his arms, stepped up to the bimah or podium. The little girl was perhaps a year old and she was adorable. From her father’s arms she smiled at the congregation. Every heart melted. Turning toward her daddy, she patted him on the cheek with her tiny hands. He smiled fondly at her and with his customary dignity began a rather traditional Yom Kippur sermon, talking about the meaning of the holiday.
The baby girl, feeling his attention shift away from her, reached forward and grabbed his nose. Gently he freed himself and continued the sermon. After a few minutes she took his tie and put it in her mouth. The entire congregation chuckled. The rabbi rescued his tie and smiled at his child. She put her tiny arms around his neck. Looking at us over the top of her head, he said, “Think about it. Is there anything she can do that you could not forgive her for?” Throughout the room people began to nod in recognition, thinking perhaps of their own children and grandchildren. Just then she reached up and grabbed his eyeglasses. Everyone laughed out loud.
Retrieving his eyeglasses and setting them on his nose, the rabbi laughed as well. Still smiling, he waited for silence. When it came, he asked, “And when does that stop? When does it get hard to forgive? At three? At seven? At 14? At 35? How old does someone have to be before you forget that everyone is a child of God?”
Back then, God’s forgiveness was something easily understandable to me, but personally I found forgiveness difficult. I had thought of it as a lowering of standards, rather than as a family relationship.
This story is published in My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen. Pp99-100. (Riverhead, 2000)
When does it get hard for you to forgive?
Who do you have an easier time regarding as “part of the family”?
Who is it harder for you to see in this way?
Have a good weekend.
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