Yesterday, I posted my planned Ash Wednesday reflection, but I left out one important part of my church-going experience: an apology for a slight long-past and already forgiven in my heart. I wrote about this encounter in August, 2010 on the old version of Fatherhood Etc. I reproduce the post in full here:
God Bless You
August 16, 2010 09:56:27 AM
Posted By David Ozab
I went to Mass yesterday at the Carmel of Maria Regina—a Carmelite convent about ten minutes from home. This was my second visit there in three weeks, and though I don’t see it as a permanent church home for my family it is a quiet, prayerful place that I enjoy visiting.
After Mass, I was walking through the parking lot to my van. As I walked to the driver’s side door, I heard a voice behind me.
“I’m surprised to see you here with those on your bumper.”
He was referring to the three well-worn Obama campaign bumper stickers that have adorned our van for the last two years. This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard a rude comment about them, but it was the first time I heard one in a church parking lot after Mass.
How Christian of you, I thought, but I refused to counter his comment with one just as rude. Instead, I got in the car and started backing out.
The parking lot is quite narrow so it took a few tries to pull out of the spot and straighten up without hitting someone. As I was about to drive off, I glanced over my shoulder. He stood there staring at my bumper stickers, like he could peel them off if he glared at them hard enough.
“What?” I asked, knowing the answer.
“What?” He sounded surprised that I was challenging him.
I paused for a moment, wondering what I’d say next. When I opened my mouth again, I think the Holy Spirit was guiding me.
“God bless you.”
His scowl transformed into a smile. “God bless you too.”
It’s been over eighteen months, I haven’t thought about it much since then but he had, and as we left church yesterday morning he pulled me aside:
“I don’t know if you remember, but I made a comment a while back about your Obama bumper sticker. Well, I just wanted to apologize.”
We shook hands and chatted for a few minutes. We have very strong, and often differing opinions about many subjects, but on two things we wholeheartedly agree:
- Those things we hold in common—our shared faith and our shared humanity—are far greater than any of our disagreements.
- Forgiveness has no expiration date.
All in all, it was an excellent start to a Lenten journey.