David walked slowly back to his father’s house, in the cold. This was the coldest night so far this autumn, temperatures dipping far below freezing. Somehow, the work of huddling against the chill comforted him. It was as if the cold was his penance.
Could it be, after all he’d been through, that simple words of forgiveness would change everything he believed about the world, about himself?
For so many years, David had allowed the world to be his enemy. He had attempted so many times, in so many ways, to extract his revenge for the world’s early betrayal, ripping him away from family, from warmth, from love.
Now, in the freezing cold, David saw reality in stark relief.
Lashing out at others, scheming, manipulating, bullying, menacing. All these tactics had left him exactly where he was: alone, out in the cold.
Oddly, David experienced no sense of judgment or shame about this. He did not view his reality with regret or disdain. He did not look down on himself for the choices he had made.
Grief, yes. A deep and old grief, long hidden under his schemes and bullying, arose with a long, silent wail. It went on so long David kept walking past the house, kept walking without deciding where to go, walking until the wail finally subsided of its own accord.
And as it subsided, in its place welled up a sense of acceptance so profound David stopped short.
This is who I am, he realized, a person with this story, of love and loss and revenge and loneliness and rejection and grief.
Exactly like every other person. I am no different, not better, not worse. I don’t have to keep working to prove how different I am, because I’m not. I’m the same. His shoulders dropped as he released fully the weight of the need to be different. I’m the same.
All this passed through David’s mind and heart on a cold, cold fall night, on a random corner in the neighborhood he used to despise, but now found he loved.