Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jayber's Nunc Dimittis... Forgiveness

... and for the first time I saw him apart from my contempt for him. I saw him clear-eyed.

I saw us both as if from a great distance off in time: two small, craving, suffering creatures, soon to be gone. Troy was a beaten man and knew it, and was trying not to know it. You could see it in his eyes. Now at last he was about to inherit a farm that he had worn out, that he had so encumbered with debt that he could not keep it, that I knew would now be dragged into the suck of speculation and development to be subdivided under some such name as Paradise Estates. This was Troy's last play in what he had sometimes liked to call "the game of farming." What did he have left? Another cut of timber, maybe, if he could wait another hundred or two hundred years.

So there he was, a man who had been given everything and did not know it, who had lost it all and now knew it, and who was boasting and grinning only to pretend for a few hours longer that he did not know it. He was an exhausted man on the way back, not to the nothing that he had when he started out, but to the nothing that everything had been created from- and so, I pray, to mercy.

And there I was, a man losing what I was never given, a man yet rich with love, a man whose knees were weakening against gravity, who needed to go somewhere and lie down. I stood facing that man I had hated for forty years, and I did not hate him. If he had acknowledged then what he finally would not be able to avoid acknowledging, I would have hugged him. If I could have done it, I would have liked to pick him up like a child and carry him to some place of safety and calm.

The time would come (and this was my deliverance, my Nunc Dimittis) when I would be, in the small ways that were possible, his friend. It was a friend, finally that he would need. I would listen to him and talk to him, ignoring his self-pity and his lapses into grandeur and meanness, giving him a good welcome and a pat on the shoulder, because I wanted to. For finally he was redeemed, in my eyes,...

Jayber Crow, pp. 360-61

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