In John Knowles’ classic novel, A Separate Peace, Gene Forrester, a middle-aged WW II war veteran returns to his New Hampshire prep school fifteen years after graduation. He is drawn to that part of the campus where a huge oak tree overspreads the river. Its branches tower above and become lost in the morning fog.
It was in that tree that Gene and his schoolboy rival Finny dared each other to climb ever higher for a dive into the river below. And it was there that Finny had fallen when our now-aging vet eitherintentionally or unintentionally shook the limb on which both were perched.
Years later Finny died from these and other injuries from another fall. For all these years Gene Forrester has remembered and wrestled with the guilt of it all.
What about you? Are there fog-shrouded trees growing like spikes in your conscience? Is there guilt from deeds done or left undone? Ugly words? A theft? Adultery? Divorce? Remembrance can be a painful thing. But it can also be a source of solace and joy.
The beauty of life is while we cannot undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change…….So that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger, but in wisdom, understanding and love.
Thanks to Stephen Crotts for his ideas.
There are two kinds of guilt:
The kind that drowns you until you are useless
And the kind that fires your soul up to achieve a new purpose with your life.
During this time of the pandemic and all the racial turmoil…..Which kind of guilt do you choose to live with? Why do you say that?