Something for the Soul: Ignorance – Simple occurences can reveal truth

October 2010 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

Winnie BoltonBy Winnie Bolton

Asking forgiveness of his crucifiers, Christ said,” Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” while he was dying on the cross.

In 1954, I had a life-altering lesson that I’ll never forget.

A black family, named “Guye,” moved into our all-white neighborhood in Connecticut and neighbors accused the real estate agent of “block busting,” a familiar term in the 1950s and 1960s. We were recipients of a culture that had not addressed this white-black dilemma in our nation and it was coming to a head in small communities.

Although the Guye family looked like the rest of us except for being black, we never welcomed them as we normally did for new neighbors. Instead, we lived in fear of our homes and property devaluating – a scary situation.

But another calamity befell that same year. I was misdiagnosed with a slipped disc when I had contacted polio. Spending days on morphine in the hospital, I was in no pain but could hardly walk. The horrendous pain returned up and down my spine and legs. I had a 2- and 3-year-old child at home and all my family lived in New York.

The neighbors were kind and helpful but when Mrs. Guye heard I had polio she came to visit with a dinner for my family. She had had polio as a child resulting in one leg shorter than the other. I had remembered her limping in her backyard that adjoined ours but never concerned myself with that.

We sat and talked for an hour or so and it was the first time I heard her voice. We were strangers until then.

After she left, I cried for hours asking God’s forgiveness of my ignorance in the past with the pain and anxiety we – the white neighbors – must have caused her and her family.

It was deeply humiliating for me looking into her beautiful, kind, brown eyes. I thank God for opening my eyes to the compassion in life that surrounded me in spite of the devastating pain in my legs.

My life had changed. I would never be the same either physically or spiritually. God initiates simple occurrences revealing insights to truth. They are called epiphanies. Sometimes it can take a disaster to reach our ignorance. It did me.

Little did Tom and I realize that Our Lord was leading us up the path of righteousness and our entrance into the heart of the civil rights movement not as “by-standers” but as leaders and that only by the grace of God. Our ignorance was redeemed.

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