Perhaps the rooms are nondescript. Perhaps you don’t notice them because of the emotional intensity of the experience itself.
He leads you into it. He holds your hand. You feel scratches from his palm on your own palm. Skin that should be soft on his hand is scratchy. It is scarred.
You sit down in an unremarkable chair. And he stands with you for a time. A time out of time, a timeless time. You know that he is feeling such a powerful empathy for you. It is almost a sadness. And this is worrying.
There is a door on the far side of the room. This is not the door which you entered the room through. It is the door he leaves the room through, though.
And you wait for a timeless time.
You wait for long enough that you begin to wonder. Have you been forgotten? When He was here, you knew, with out a doubt, that you were so important to this all. But now…
You think, absurdly, of those time in the doctors offices. After you’d been lead out of the waiting room. After you’d been lead to those little rooms. But before the doctor makes it in. Sometimes, the time would just stretch out and fold back on itself, and you would wonder if you had been forgotten.
It is a relief then when you sense someone in the next room. He has returned. You know that he is not alone. It is not so much that they are making noises. Perhaps it is that the air is moving around, something subliminal, inexplicable.
He enters back into the room through a door. He enters first. Later you think that perhaps he did this to reassure you. He is still looking at you with such loving kindness.
Because the person who follows is the opposite. The opposite of him.
Was there anyone in your childhood who hurt you? Perhaps you were an adult. Who hurt you the most… In the whole of your life; in the hole of your life, who hurt you the most?
That is the person who follows Jesus into that room.
Perhaps the person did something that would seem silly from the outside. Perhaps the person did something that you can’t explain. Perhaps the person should be in jail.
It has probably been so many years since you have seen them. And yet, still. The body has it’s response. A feeling in the stomach. A clenching of the jaw. And the anger, and the sadness, and the Great Question “Why?”
The question to them and the question to Him. “Why?”
There are no answers to that question in this room. Does He tell you that? Or do you only think it? I think that He says that the question will be answered. But not in this room. Not now.
And there is you. And there is them. And there is this silence. And there is Him.
What will you do.
He asks that. You are sure of it. I am sure of it. He asks, “What will you do.”
You think first that there should be an explanation. The one who hurt you should have something to say for themself. Perhaps it was his own childhood. Perhaps there was something else going on, some greater good. At least, you might hope for an apology.
But it is not the time for that.
There is only the question “What will you do?”
And you want to know what the question means. I want to know what that question means.
Does your decision– does my decision– render some sort of verdict? Will we, the one who suffered so, determine this final fate?
But it does not matter. What does matter is the answer to the question “What will you do?”
And so that question is asked, out loud again.
And it becomes clear that the question is not as open ended as it seems. It is really a multiple choice question. There are actually only a) and b)
“What will you do?” Really means “Will you forgive?”
With out explanation? Without apology? Will you forgive?
With something like anger you wonder: is this it? Are these the rooms he went before us to prepare for us?
I know that the only way I will forgive is if He helps me to forgive. I think that’s true of you, too. This forgiveness is such a ludicrious thing, such an over the top thing. How could we possibly do it on our own?
But if He helps us we will. And if we do He will take us through that door on the other side of the room, the one he lead the other person through.
I don’t know what happens to the person who hurt us when we were a child. I do not know if our forgivenenss frees them. I don’t know if our failure to forgive leads to something else, somewhere else.
If you make the decision to forgive, the person will simply fade from view.
But I know that someone else will be sitting in that next room, now, by the time that we enter it.
Will it be someone we recognize? Will it be someone we remember?
It will be someone we hurt once.
Perhaps not the same. Perhaps because of the one who hurt us. Perhaps we had our reasons. Perhaps we don’t understand them.
The person who sits in the nondescript seat was growing impatient. And their is such a terrible recognition in the look that crosses their face. And you will know that it is not the time for explanations. The jaw clenches. The hands ball into fists. The eyes fill up and they look away from you.
You will stand before the one you hurt.
And you will wonder what he will do.
And when he makes his decision, there is third room that you will find yourself in. You will fade from that person’s view and fade yourself in that third room.
You will not know how you got into that third room.
But you are alone and their are no doors.
There is just this mirror.
How could there be a room with no doors?
There are no windows, just this mirror.
But it is not a mirror at all. You thought there was. But the thing that you assumed to be your reflection does not move when you move. A perfect reproduction of yourself occupies the other half of the doorless/windowless room. The other-you seems just as lost, lonely, and confused as you know you are.
And you are standing before yourself.
And the question is this:
What will you do?
You have hurt yourself. You have not become who you were meant to be. You will see the fullness of what you should have been. You will see what in fact you have chosen to become.
You have caused yourself such pain.
You have caused others pain. You have let them down. You have reached deeply inside of them and you hurt them.
What will you do?
Will you forgive?
And if you do you will find Him again.
And you will stand before him and he will be nailed to a cross.
And you put the nails in.
I put the nails in.
What will he do?
When it is finished you walk through a doorway that you did not notice. It is beneath the cross, off-center. It does not lead to another room. It leads to the outside. Golden sunlight filters in. A soft breeze.
This is the beginning of the beginning, you realize as you walk through it.