This is a story I heard from a priest about a man from south Louisiana. This man had red hair so we might as well call him Red, even though his hair has started to go gray. He had profound sadness within him. Every year around the first day of spring he cried a lot.
He would tell anyone who would listen, “My boy was retarded, you know. He wasn’t smart. But I loved that kid so much. He was slow, but a joy.” He would pause, and continue, “A couple years ago on the first day of spring, my boy went to a picnic. At the end of the picnic, they found my boy’s lifeless body floating in the pool.” He sobbed, “My boy was dead! He was six. My retarded son, who I loved, was dead. God took him away from me. All the other boys said they hadn’t seen him go into the pool. They didn’t know anything.” He wiped his tears away, “But I knew they was lying. My boy had scratches on his face, where someone held his head underwater and drowned him.”
And he continued, “I was mad at God. I was mad at those boys. I wanted them to die for what they did, for drowning my boy. In my heart I hated those boys. I wished they would pay for what they did. And I prayed for my boy to be saved. About a year ago, I went into a bar around this time to get drunk and forget.”
As the priest said, drinking to forget isn’t a great thing to do, but it’s better than feeding hatred and anger.
Red went on, “After I sat at that bar, the door opened and a guy walked in. He walked straight up to me at the bar and sat down. I told him about my son. I told him he was dead, drowned by those boys. And I told him about the scratches. And he replied, ‘I work on an oil platform in the middle of the Gulf, and I’ve seen lots of guys drown. That happens all the time. When a guy drowns, when he goes down for the third time, there’s a reflex that happens every time. They all reach up with their hands like claws and scratch their own face. It happens every time.’ My heart was thudding. He said, ‘Mister, those boys didn’t kill your son. They were telling the truth. Nobody drowned him. It was an accident!'”
Red said, “I was so thankful. God brought that man to me, straight into the bar and on a beeline to where I was sitting. And he answered my prayer. He saved my son. I had been wrong. Now I knew he wasn’t drowned by those boys. I didn’t have to hate them anymore. They were innocent. And my boy had a short life, but a happy one. He died in an accident, too young, but in an accident, not by murder.”
Red finished, “Until then I just thought about those boys and how much I hated them for drowning my son. I believed a falsehood and it was ruining me. Now I remember my son and how much I loved him.”
Moral: Blame and speculation lead to hatred. Truth leads to love. God wants us to love.
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