Well, wouldntcha know. I and 1499 other people were put out of our homes for an entire day last week because of some….errr…person who decided to shoot a military flare at the Patrick Cudahy plant. The flare landed on the roof and created a fire ball that ignited the blaze that burned for 48 hours and then reignited this past Saturday. Hundreds of people are out of jobs, a state of emergency declared, a piece of history destroyed and Mr. (or Ms..) Flare is out there wandering the streets.
This really burns me, pun intended. My initial reaction to the news was, “Let’s find that so-in-so and make him (or her) clean up every stick of debris by hand.” I had a few other thoughts I’m not too proud of, too.
I also had a ton of questions, like “where daheck did the bozo get a military flare?” and “what was he (she) doing out there in the middle of the night?” and “did the person who shot the flare care one iota that there were dozens upon dozens of elderly and disabled people, people with oxygen tanks and walkers, people in wheelchairs and prostheses, people recovering from surgeries and other ailments, who were put out of their homes?”.
It was difficult to keep my anger from flaring full blast. I knew I shouldn’t be angry or vengeful, but it was just so hard to be gentle and forgiving when so many people were harmed by a single individual’s negligent actions. I thought about our Lord’s admonishment to his disciples.
But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;(Mt. 5:29)
Right now, I don’t know if I can so easily turn the other cheek. The vision of these poor people, dazed and wabbling around and being bused from their homes to an evacuation shelter is etched in my brain. The knowing that firefighters from more than 30 departments state-wide were called out and fought the blaze, until they were far past exhaustion still weighs on my heart. Twenty of them nearly fell through the collapsing roof and into the center of the blaze. I still get teary-eyed when I think of their families at home, praying and begging God for the safety of their loved ones.
These things are tough for me to forgive, but our Lord says I must. So, I’ll keep praying for that grace and meditating upon Matthew’s Gospel. At some point I’ll bring myself – sooner rather than later, I hope – to pray for the person who shot the flare. Eventually my heart will change and it’ll spark a flare of forgivenenss and peace as Jesus has asked me to do.