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Don#8217;t let chances to be enlightened pass you by

How many times have you attended an event or gathering, with some or a lot of trepidation, only to find out it was something that you were glad that you didn’t miss?

You know what I’m talking about — those times your wife asks you to go with her to the plant sale or the craft show, or maybe your boss invites you to attend a gathering that he or she says will be a “big” event.

Well, I had one Thursday.

Before I go into great detail, understand something. Newspaper people are nocturnal creatures. Since the death of the afternoon paper, few journalists, and few editors with small newspapers, ever work 9-5. Most newspapers are “put to bed,” the term for going to press, well after everybody else has left the office for the evening.

So, with that said, my boss asked me earlier in the week if I wanted to attend the annual prayer breakfast at the armory Thursday morning.

As he talked, here’s what I heard:

1. Prayer – I’m OK with that. In fact, I’m all for it.

2. Food – as long as somebody else is buying and/or cooking, I’m all for that, too.

3. Morning – “Danger Will Robinson!” Did he say morning? Yes, I’m afraid he did.

OK. Two out of three ain’t bad, so, “Yes, I’d love to go,” I said, or something like that.

Anyway, despite being somewhat groggy and operating on well below my normal intake of coffee, I got up early and made my way to the armory for the 7 a.m. event.

Boy, am I glad I did.

I learned a new word – well not a new one, but a new appreciation for one – at that breakfast.

The word is forgiveness.

I know what it means; I even use it sometimes. But I have never met a person who could forgive somebody who brutally murdered their father – that is until yesterday.

His name is Steve Saint, and in 1956, at age five, as he tells it, he would stand along the dirt runway outside of his home on the edge of the Amazon jungle and watch his missionary father fly off into the distance.

He would be going into the jungle to help members of the Waodani tribe, called the “most savage tribe in history.”

And each evening, Saint recalled waiting in the same spot, looking far off and above the jungle canopy, hoping to spot that little black dot that was his father’s plane bringing him safely home.

And then one day, and for several days thereafter, he never saw that dot. And eventually, his mother told him his father would never be coming home.

As Saint puts it, those same natives his father was helping, impaled him with spears, cut up his body with machetes and threw his remains into the river for the fish and turtles to eat.

Fast forward two years, and this same little boy joined an aunt and began living among those same savages.

Now, fast forward many more years, and Saint tells how he has become best friends with the man who murdered his father, a tribesman named Mincaye, and even calls him “grandfather.”

Mincaye has become a part of Saint’s family, and the two men travel the world together telling their story in hopes of helping others find a similar peace within themselves, and with the help of God.

My apologies to Saint for cutting his most remarkable story to shreds, but I just don’t have the space here to do it justice.

But I have had enough room to make this point, that what I thought forgiveness was is nothing compared to what this man has been able to do.

I think of all the petty things that we deal with each and every day, and how we might become upset with a family member, friend, co-worker, or even strangers over the most mundane issues. And I think of how we might stay mad at those same people for long periods of time — for what?

So, after hearing Saint tell his story, I believe the next time somebody cuts me off on the road, or somebody speaks before they think, I’ll be more inclined to forgive them.

After all, if Saint can embrace the man who killed his father …

If you would like to learn more about Saint’s story, I suggest anyone of the following:

n See the movie End of the Spear, released earlier this year;

n Get a copy of the book with the same name, written by Saint;

n Get a copy of Through the Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot, which tells the story of the massacre involving Saint’s father.

And, the next time you are invited to participate in some activity, and for whatever reason you don’t feel like doing it, go ahead and go. You may just be pleasantly surprised.

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at 934-9603 or doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com