Note from Joe: Great poetry punches you right in the gut. This is great poetry.
She hurt my feelings. I offered
her a gift she didn't appreciate
and she turned on me cruelly,
scourging me with words until I
broke into tears.
Days went by. I still hurt but I
knew I needed reconciliation with
this friend who didn't yet know
Christ. Reconciliation means
saying "I'm sorry." But what had
I done? For what could I
apologize? For being hurt?
Weeks went by. At last I
recognized my bad feelings
toward my friend, my desire to
avoid her. Go to her, God urged.
I resolved to ask her forgiveness
the very next time we met.
Months went by — a year,
perhaps — and then, at the
market, there she was on the
other side of the oranges. I
rushed to her, conscious of my
vow, poured out my apology and
hugged her. Then I stood back
and asked, "How have you been?"
"My husband died." Appalled, I
heard her add, "He killed himself.
Seven months ago."
Now I saw for the first time how
thin she had become, how
streaked with white and how
lifeless the long black hair, how
gaunt and lined the face.
She was speaking, bitterly: "I'm
seeing a counselor... must go on
for the sake of the children...
don't talk to me about God. I
don't want to hear it."
What did I say in return? It can't
have been much. I was seeing
myself nursing bruised feelings
while the police were telling
Bobbie they had found her
husband dead. I was
remembering how I had avoided
her as a source of pain to me —
while she was watching the man
she loved being lowered into his
grave. I had so casually put off
"getting things right" month after
month as she struggled alone with
grief and fear and anger. "I'm
moving," she was saying. "I'm
trying to shop in different stores,
cut all ties with the past."
I was part of that past. I had lost
the right to be part of her present
because I wasn't there when she
She pushed her cart away.
Again I stood in pain, again in
tears. Oh, Lord, when You said,
Go to her, I didn't know! I
didn't know it mattered when.