Grace – still amazing
Today I commuted to work by tube rather than by my usual motorbike. I picked up a free newspaper at the station and flicked through it on my journey. It was mostly the same-old, same-old mixture of “celebrity” gossip, sport with a bit of politics and maybe some world news thrown in.
Then on page 9 I saw the article shown on the right. It tells of how Mrs Patricia Machin forgave and campaigned for a lighter sentence for the man who ran over and killed her husband. I was amazed – so much so that I ripped the page out of the newspaper on the train and kept it (sorry if you picked up that paper afterwards). It put me in mind of Gordon Wilson whose daughter, Marie, was killed by the IRA bomb at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland in 1987. He described how he held his daughter’s hand as she lay dying in the street. In an interview shortly after he said:
“I have lost my daughter, but I bear no ill will . . . Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life . . . I don’t have an answer . . . But I know there has to be a plan. If I didn’t think that, I would commit suicide.” (Gordon Wilson 1987)
He went on to speak with the IRA to express his forgiveness of them personally in an attempt to create peace. This is well known. What many don’t know (or have forgotten) is that he was later shunned in the street and pretty much vilified for showing such grace and speaking of forgiveness.
For her part Mr Machin wrote to the judge saying:
“I have never had any angry or vengeful thoughts towards this young man”
The judge said:
“You have been very fortunate to be forgiven.”
In sharing the story of Mrs Machin’s forgiveness of the driver who killed her husband I have encountered a broad range of responses: ranging from “I’m not sure I could do that.” to “But that just sends the message that you can get away with it.”
Whatever else it’s good to see that grace not only exists but is still amazing and – by it’s very nature – shocking.