The Importance of Mercy: Forgiving my father’s murderer on Christmas Eve

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“The timing of this is extraordinary.

A few weeks ago now, I wrote a post explaining how my youngest step son had moved into a rental property in Redcar with his girlfriend. The chances of what happened next are millions to one, but, the previous tenant of that house had been the son of the man that murdered my dad. Not only that, he’d left behind a letter from his dad to him. This letter told of how he was doing in prison and how he was set to get a phone in his cell etc.

I have never, in the eight years since he was jailed, wanted to know where dads killer was. I’ve never looked for him. I forgave him in my heart and that was it. I know it’s what dad would have wanted. But this letter with his prison details, coming into my life, was like my dads killer coming looking for me, via fate.

When I read it, I got angry. Not with him, but with myself. I wondered to myself if I’d been stupid for forgiving when his life, though it won’t be easy in prison, is still far better than what my dad has.

When you allow anger in, it has such a devastating effect on your life and since I allowed that anger in a few weeks ago since I learned the contents of that letter, I’ve found myself not being as at peace as I normally am and I haven’t liked it. I also allowed in a doubt because of this anger. I forgave wholeheartedly and I wrote my Edinburgh show forgiveness, with a clear heart. But when I let that anger in, I started to wonder if I still forgave?

Was my forgiveness still intact? How could I go on stage, in what will be some of the most important shows of my life at the soho theatre, talking about forgiveness, if I doubted my forgiveness? I just couldn’t be fake.

So, now presented with my killers prison address, I wrote a letter to the prison governor, explained the situation and asked if I could meet my dads killer? I told the governor that I wanted to see dads killer face to face, look at him and see if I felt anger or hate or malice. I had to be sure. I didn’t know if he’d want to meet me and It’s not something that I’ve ever wanted to do, but it was now something I felt I had to do.

I’ve been waiting five weeks and had no reply, despite phoning the prison a couple of times.

I got up today, went to the bank, had my breakfast in the library and went swimming. When I got home, just before two, I had a card from the post office saying I’d missed a signed for delivery. I had no idea what time the sorting office closed but I went there and it was open. I asked if my signed for package had been handed back into the sorting office and by chance, the bloke said it just had and he’d just put it on its shelf.

When he gave me it, it was a signed for letter. I opened it in the car and it was from the prison. Basically, it said that my dads killer had been informed of my request and he had indicated that he wanted to enter into the process of us meeting.

Christmas Eve, of all the days that this should happen, Christmas Eve. I felt that that big hand of fate was at work again and that forces, far bigger than I could ever imagine, were at work, and on behalf of the power of good.

I felt uplifted.

I went to get diesel and when I paid the Muslim bloke, I shook his hand and wished him merry Christmas. He wished me the same.

As I came away, I thought “I’ve just wished a Muslim bloke merry Christmas and they don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that didn’t offend him?”. But then, all of a sudden, I thought that the Christian faith teaches that Christ was born for all men, so why shouldn’t you wish Muslims, Hindus, Jews or whatever, a merry Christmas? Why shouldn’t all men be wished peace and goodwill at this time? Including my dads killer?

And then I got this overwhelming feeling, that when that letter came into my possession, that the process of forgiving, really forgiving, was only just beginning, for it’s easy to say something, but quite another to actually do it.

Merry Christmas everyone, to all the people who’ve wished me it or messaged me, merry Christmas and peace and love and forgiveness, to you all.

Pax vobiscum…”

Chris McGlade is a Comedian. His show “Forgiveness” will be at the Soho Theatre in London in 2020. Book tickets here: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/chris-mcglade-forgiveness/

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