Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Recently I came across a quote that was attributed to Mark Twain. Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

Oh, the images that this conjured up in my mind. One came from a movie I remember from the late nineties entitled “What Dreams May Come” with actor Robin Williams playing the lead. While the theology of the plot is questionable, it did portray some real emotions which do impact people, and perhaps invade their dreams at times.

The plot is a story of a family’s loss of a child, which drives the mother to suicide, and the father into his own private depression. In a dream-like pursuit to rescue his wife from the grips of judgment, one believed to have been given her because she took her own life, he makes a guided descent into the very depths of hell.

The images that brought the movie to mind grew out of the wife’s impressionistic paintings, where she had captured their first meeting on a beautiful hillside of flowers growing above a lake. It had become their emotional retreat of peace, and was the ideal final rest he hoped she’d ultimately find. His entrance into the dream sequence was through her painting, with the result that he “walked” through fields of painted flowers. Hence, my use of the picture with paint covering his clothes, and the imagery that Mark Twain’s quote brought to mind.

Interestingly enough, the character’s ultimate confrontation with his wife dealt with issues of forgiveness, compassion, and even self-sacrifice for the love of another. These gave the movie redeeming value, even in the midst of its faltering theology.

So, what about this idea of forgiveness…the fragrance of the violet on the heel that has crushed it? Mark Twain’s quote denotes a very basic Christian virtue. The willingness to bless the very ones who bruise us is basic to the very nature of the Christian faith. Jesus, Himself, from the cross of Calvary, uttered the watchwords of this virtue when He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Yet, for all of this, forgiveness remains an unfilled character trait, even for those who claim Christ’s forgiveness for their own sins and even failure to forgive others. Quite a paradox is this and addressed by Christ this way following His Lord’s Prayer instruction: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

People who harbor unforgiveness make the usual excuses to justify their actions, but taking Christ’s words to heart, in addition to His example, their path seems a dangerous one to tread. On the other hand, if we would take the path of forgiveness we would find it not as difficult as it seems. The key is to send out love’s “violet fragrance” when we are ground under the heel of others. Unselfish sacrifice to love beyond another’s abusive behavior is to put on the garment Jesus wears. The result is a perfume of life that can bless us as well as the “heel” that crushes.

Toward his wife’s forgiveness, Williams’ character echoed Paul’s love and desire that his people Israel might come to the truth. In Romans 9:3 he writes, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” He would give up his own claim to eternity’s peace for them to gain it. What a fragrance that gives!

Do you realize that it is only when a flower is crushed that it releases an abundance of its essence into the air?

Dear friends, I pray that your perfume of crushing is of such compassionate sweetness, that you and others will be encouraged today.


Amber said...

Missed ya. Glad you posted today.

I really needed to hear that. Another tough day...

Love you guys.

Mich said...

Believe it or not I have that quote in a journal of mine from highschool. I don't think I ever knew who said it before. It is a favorite of mine.

Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Good words, Broco. The very word forgiveness tells us a lot. For-give-ness. For means prior to, no preconditions, no cost to the other person, Give is to make a choice to transfer something from your possession to that of another without thought of reward. You are giving away something which would ultimately destroy you if kept, but when received by the other person brings freedom to both.

Terry G said...

How in the world did you know that I needed to hear this today?!?!?!? I'm going through something really "poopy" right now, and am having a very difficult time exhibiting that Christ-like spirit that I know I need to have. Hmmmmm - will have to ponder on this some more. thank you.w