Entry #7 of 12 Christian Teacher in First Nations Schools ~ Journey Toward Forgiveness
Saving Face ~ Tom had dropped me off at my teacherage, as I had alot of school resources from the Post Office to bring home in heavy boxes. His face weathered by more than just cold wind and sun was suddenly serious. In that next five minutes, I was entrusted with a treasured moment of vulnerability in this hardworking, humble, janitor. I felt like someone had given me a very precious pearl and I wasn't sure what to do with it. Normally with this colleague, it was all friendly banter or all business, like something wrong with the lock on the outside portable door or perhaps a musty smell coming from the rads in my office.
"I went to that residential school."
I didn't want to breathe.
"The school said I was picked to go to that exhibition in Toronto. You know, with the rides and all that."
My mind instantly formed a picture of a place I had visited as a youth, a place we knew as the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Canada. It was a huge fair built on a landfill in Lake Ontario and operated by the Government of Ontario. Memories of friends, a ferris wheel and other theme park rides, drifted through my mind, along with images of ice cream, popcorn, candy floss, and what we called "beaver tails" a flat sugary covered donut-like treat.
My heart sank as he continued.
"I was chosen and two other boys. One day we were standing in line and one of the other kids elbowed me so I punched him back. I don't know why he did that. Maybe he was jealous that I was chosen to go on that big trip to Toronto. Anyway, that nun, she hit me over the head with a ruler, you know the kind with the steel rim and it cut my forehead. I said it wasn't my fault but she wouldn't listen....said, just for that I wouldn't be allowed to go to the exhibition. I never forgot that. It hurts me really bad."
What does anyone say after hearing a story like that? I knew that this school janitor was stuck in a place of bitterness and anguish, trapped in the past with no hope of rescue unless he were to surrender his pain completely to Christ and choose, rather than ambiguously "find" his journey to forgiveness.
"Were you able to forgive her", I asked, treading so very carefully, but knowing I had to put it out there.
"It's complicated." he answered.
And so it remains without a deep revelation of the grace of Christ.
I've always been rather thankful to Tom. I too, had alot to learn about forgiveness.