Funny how when you start to think about something, you suddenly see incarnations of it everywhere. There’s probably a good Yiddish word for that phenomenon. A couple of days ago, I wrote about Nelson Mandela’s smile and that same night, browsing the bookshelves here in Minnesota, I came across a book of poems by Brother Kilian McDonnell. He writes more eloquently than I ever could about Nelson Mandela :
For twenty-seven years he built a house
of freedom within the house of pain…
For twenty-seven years he drew no syllogistic
judgment of revenge—blood for blood, grave
for grave—no clichéd homilies of cheap grace.
He breaks open truth’s dungeon, uncages
robes of justice, erases the colored gavel,
unapartheiding tables and toilets, unscrambling
the syntax of despair, un-poisoning the chalice,
drinking from the cup with those who locked his cell.
This is freedom. Here all can breathe.
Forgiveness. Maybe it’s not an act, but a place. A place we go to share the cup with people the world would excuse us for hating. A place where language does not intimidate because all are fluent in smiling. A place where the air is so Maine-morning fresh with freedom that all can breathe. I’m booking my ticket to that place today.