Charleston: Being Resilient and La La Land
“Life is hard. The losses, the sudden arrival of illness, the struggles within families, the pressure of a world trying to find a reason to hope. If it is to endure the gale force winds of chance, faith must be deeply rooted, anchored in trust, strengthened by courage, able to bend but never break. So here is a prayer for all of you living in the real world: may you find your faith as tough as you are and as resilient as the love that keeps you going.” —Bishop Steven Charleston, Facebook Post.
I think of the end of the 2017 Academy awards, when Warren Beatty couldn’t understand what was in the envelope to announce the best picture of the year. He handed the confusing envelope to Faye Dunaway, who saw the name La La Land and announced that movie as the winner. They had been given the wrong envelope! It was the one announcing Emma Stone as best actress from La La Land, which had been reported earlier. The producers and cast of La La Land were so excited, they came up and thanked numerous people. Men with headsets scurried on stage and handed Jordan Horowitz, one of the La La Land producers, the correct envelope as he announced, “I’m sorry. No. There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture!”
I will always remember the grace with which Horowitz gave up his Oscar—his whole team on stage, his dream suddenly crushed, after years of hoping to win, his Oscar now being handed over to another producer before a live television audience in front of millions of people. Later Horowitz said to Adele Romanski, a Moonlight producer, “I got to give a speech and then give you an award!”
When I think of resilience, I will remember and tell his story. I compare it to all the mistakes I have been involved in: taking my family, particularly my husband, for granted; failing to speak to a patient’s family because I was too busy; all the potential mistakes I fear, such as reading the wrong Gospel, preaching from the wrong Lessons, not chanting well, running out of bread at the Eucharist, forgetting to visit someone who then dies. Then there are all the frustration dreams of going to take a test for a class I had not attended or studied for.
Knowing that a time-honored institution such as the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers can make such a mistake somehow helps me forgive myself for my own failings. This firm, which has overseen the Oscar ballots for eighty-three years, also was gracious, asking forgiveness, making amends for the confusion, apologizing for their human error.
When spiritual friends ask about forgiveness, we always return to Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s outstanding book, The Book of Forgiving, in which they also talk about forgiving yourself by admitting your mistake and making amends as do those in twelve-step recovery. We now have role models who have forgiven others for great injustices, such as Nelson Mandela in South Africa who forgave his captors for his eighteen years in prison. We have the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, who forgave the gunman who killed five of their children and critically wounded five others on October 2, 2006. Forgiveness and amends can transform guilt and shame and anger and turn revenge and resentment into resilience and even more. Resurrection.
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