Compendium (return)

Here, you will find – exclusively – my humble compendium of letters. These are the correspondence I have maintained with my family. I submit them to your review for reasons I do not understand.

Forgive such musings as here follow. They are merely awkward attempts to understand a reality which eludes language. And, now they are yours.


Caedmon Comma

My Son,

Tonight, you were mad. I don't mean that in the emotional sense, but in the psychologically euphemistic sense. You were so upset that you were filled with madness.

You had worked so hard to earn a particular privilege, but a series of behavioral missteps resulted in the revocation of those earned privileges.  Upon hearing that, you blew up. You screamed and yelled. You earned a few more revocations. This caused you to become all the more unhinged. You tore your room apart and even damaged some of your own stuff. But, this was not enough. You needed to hurt the people who had caused the injustice: your parents. So, you emerged out of your room, armed with several stuffed animals and proceeded to hurl them at me.

I was very proud of your arm accuracy. The first, some stuffed reptilian creature hit me square in the forehead. Your second toss (I think it was a small dog) also struck home. I announced that what you had just done was assault and that there would be consequences. At this, you abandoned your remaining ammunition and retreated to your wrecked room in a flood of tears and vehement condemnations.  

Your mother and I have tried to be consistent disciplinarians. We take it as a point of pride and pithy philosophy that we are not raising children -  we are raising responsible adults. Rules are rules and there are always consequences. In both of our professions, we see the results of parenting-gone-wrong. From time to time this dedication may result in your parents tending to overcompensate in our sternness. I can understand why you think that we are too harsh or too strict.

Once you settled down, we asked you into the dining room, sat you in a chair and announced that you were welcome to plead your case, but a punishment would be enacted. We listened as you rattled off a series of grievances about our own behaviors. We tried to understand your perspective. We attempted to apologize for misunderstandings and actual slights. But, your objections were found to be merit-less, and it was time for sentencing.

Oh... you moaned, it is going to be something horrible, and then you attempted to rehash all that we had done wrong. You had sat in that chair before and you knew that you were wrong. You knew how consistent your mom and dad were in rendering judgement for unacceptable behavior. So, you reached for every mitigating factor you could find and hurled them at us.  

I interrupted you and said, "You're forgiven."

I was not even sure that you knew what that word meant because it was the first time that word had been spoken from me to you. Forgiven.

Your mom and I try so hard to raise you and your sister right. We want to prepare you for the rigors of life and create moralities and work ethics that can thrive in a world that is harsh and sometimes dangerous. But, in that quest, we may fail to prepare you for something just as important, yet antithetical - love.

As you were railing against me with your long list of problems that you had with my parenting, and while I was attempting to listen, I was horrified to realize how very little of the Christianity - that I hold so dear - I have used in my relationship with you. And I wondered - what am I doing? What is the point of this? Perhaps his madness is justified. A world without grace is indeed maddening to me, isn't it?

In response to our reprieve, you became suddenly quiet. As you got up, you softly worked it out verbally.

Forgiven? That's surprising, you mumbled and shuffled off to another room.

You were right. It was surprising. It always is. It always should be.

A world bent on justice is sometimes interrupted by grace and mercy, son. Such things leave us unsettled, and unsure - foundation-less. Forgiveness is the shocking scandal that leaves us dumbfounded and wrecked.

Someday I hope you can surprise your kids with mercy. Someday, I hope you can grant forgiveness to me.