As I do each morning upon waking I check my messages and do what ever correspondence needs to be done. Today had a twist. As I was meandering through my Facebook Messenger I noticed I had a couple of messages in a folder designated for people I am not "friends" with on Facebook. I opened it to see a name I hadn't seen or given much thought to for the past ten years.
She said in these exact words:
"Mother Teresa Painting Make me a cash offer I won't refuse. Otherwise bonfire."
Whoa. Wow. What the...
I promptly offered her $1500. This is what I remembered she paid for the painting ten years ago.
Her tone seemed a little hateful.
"It's been stored for the past ten years. Don't want anything to do with any you. Double that amount. I paid more back when. Not much more but more."
At this point I felt like I was dealing with an art terrorist. The thought of my painting going up in flames unless I hand over the cash is new to me. My emotions have been a little high over this ordeal and so I have reached out to my spiritual advisors for advice.
"Tell her to go fuck herself" was one bit of solid advice I received and then... "What matters most to you?" was a question asked of me a few times. Finally, the words "What is going to hurt the least?" was spoken and at that moment I thought I had to save the Saint. Besides, it is Saint Mother Teresa and what would she do? I think she would get out of the way enough to get the job done. Would she sacrifice her own ego and feelings to do the greater good? She may also tell someone to go bugger off but not at the cost of the mission, right?. At least this is my idea about what she might do.
So, I told this terrorist that I could only muster up $2,000 and also thanked her for the opportunity to save my painting from her fiery death threat. She countered at $2,100. Ouch. I asked for photos to verify its condition after 10 years and she once again took offense. At this point I decided to save myself and regardless of what Mother Teresa may or may not have done, I decided to not negotiate with a terrorist. I kindly said, "I've had a change of heart...don't get burned."
At this point you may be wondering why this woman hates me so much that she would burn Mother Teresa at the stake. I'm wondering this too. I know that ten years ago my wife and I asked a mutual friend to dinner because it was her birthday. The terrorist wasn't invited and became highly offended. This was it. Friendship ended before dessert was served.
Big sigh here.
This post is not about ratting out this person. I dare say it may not even be about saving the saint. I believe the greater lesson here may be about life and how we harbor the insults we have experienced. I will leave you with this. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. It takes the burden off of us and places it with the rhythm and grace of life. It gives the other person a chance to grow. It leaves room for compassion and kindness and keeps us in the light so that we may see our way along this sometimes rocky and treacherous road. It washes threats and acts of violence from our hearts and cools the fires that can take from us what can not be restored. Forgiveness releases our heartaches and makes clear the path to joy. If Mother Teresa burns, I forgive her.