The notion of ‘grace,’ forgiveness and love in the utter absence of those sentiments being ‘earned,’ is a necessary notion for honest human relationships. We have all done things for which we cannot account or make amends, and our only hope for real interpersonal development and self-actualization. In a very practical way, our constitutional weaknesses make a willingness to accept others and indeed ourselves despite unremitting failure a necessary feature of a lasting human society.
Photo taken by me in Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, AL
Sonnet 120, by William Shakespeare, expresses this sentiment well, it’s always made me tear up:
That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow which I then did feel
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammer’d steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken
As I by yours, you’ve pass’d a hell of time,
And I, a tyrant, have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.
O, that our night of woe might have remember’d
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
And soon to you, as you to me, then tender’d
The humble salve which wounded bosoms fits!
But that your trespass now becomes a fee;
Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.