I am walking in Siberia, a long way from home. It is cold, icy, beautiful in springtime, they say. An open field stands between the precipice I am on and all the others. It is full of flowers. They break through the ice and the springtime as if they were the same thing. There is no warmth and no cold to these flowers. They bloom regardless. Sometimes they are angry, or hurt, wounded, but still they bloom. They are like fire on stalks, swaying in the breeze, igniting everything around them.
I am walking and Siberia is changing. It is getting warmer.
I pray as I walk because Siberia's hope comes from God. As I walk, I run into another's prayer. It meets me here, this prayer, said a hundred years ago or more by someone chained like me. Someone devastated. And our prayers meet here. Here, where prisoners were once sent, but now people come with purpose. They save and strive and work to come here to live free, where the ice has melted and fire blooms on the earth.
I listen to the prayer. Before I hear it I know. I know this is a prayer for someone's enemy. A forgiveness prayer. Lord, bless them and keep them. Make your face to shine upon them and give them peace. I take it as mine, because I am cold, and I want to be warm.
She: And you don't want to talk about it? Why? Did you do something wrong? Are you afraid of something? Whatever it is, let me help.
He: Let me help. A hundred years or so from now, I believe, a famous novelist will write a classic using that theme. He'll recommend those three words even over, "I love you."
Let me help.
It's easy to be the helper. It's hard to let someone help. For one thing, what if they don't want to? What if no one wants to and you are left all alone? What if no one cares about you and no one says, "Let me help." But what if they do?
If you know me, you know everything is Star Trek. I love the stories, the way aliens can tell us about ourselves, how good humanity is, how wonderfully inventive, surprising, and pure of heart. We travel to the stars and do the right thing. Always. Humans are doing the right thing in space.
Let me help.
There is a line from a song: a friend is someone who lets you help. It's probably a famous saying too, older than the song.
I want to help, to always be the superhero. It doesn't always work that way. Sometimes I need. Sometimes you do. I don't know why it's like that. But "let me help" is a promising phrase. It gives me hope in our broken world that these are the words people might want to say. Not just in TV shows, in real life, in the real world right here.
It was just a dream. An old friend came from a war torn place across the ocean where now there is tense peace. There is still suspicion, and she pays bribes to keep the enemy at bay, but life goes on. It's not perfect. It could be, but no one is willing to demand it. They accept the good enough because no one has the strength to believe for the best. Kinda familiar.
She came without the twenty years since she was here last. It was a surprise to see her. I didn't know she was coming. When she arrived, we were about to join a military regiment. In a dream everything makes sense, but that didn't. Still, we eagerly signed up to take tests, tests that would reveal important things, things that people need to know about themselves. They would tell us what we are made of.
Two friends together can overcome all, but our tests were in separate places. She went one way and I went another. I was in a shadowy, dark, and dusty office building with many rooms and, somehow, this was the location of our finding out important things. It wasn't grand or magnificent. The tests couldn't be so great. What could a simple location like this tell us? You spend ordinary days in an office building. What could ordinary days teach us?
My first test took place at a small cliff in a small room. It was manmade, but treacherous nonetheless. There were several of us, each tasked with figuring out how to get down from a great height. One girl in my group threw caution aside and jumped with no preparation whatsoever. She shattered like glass when she hit the ground, but she was like a video game character who would reappear later to take the test again. I watched this and decided to kick something over to break my fall. There were stacks of items just to the side and clearly visible. I kicked. It worked.
I was feeling pretty smart and my next test was similar, as was the one after that. But the next was forming something out of clay. I failed. Just like the glass girl, I reappeared later to retake the test and passed it the second time. I learned.
My fifth test was forgiveness.
I could see a young woman who had been treated badly. She was a dark sketch of a broken, harmed figure, immense woe and pain hanging on her. She couldn't shake it off. It literally held her down. She had something to forgive. Something real. I somehow knew her story in the dream and it was horrific. I can't even put it into words, but she was crushed, wounded, and despondent. It was my job to "be" the young woman and forgive her tormentors in order to set her free.
But how do you forgive? Everyone talks about it. People say it. People do it, someone somewhere, I think. It sounds impossible, feels impossible. How do you lift the weight and throw it off? They. Did. Wrong. I can't erase that! How can I give up their guilt? Forgiveness makes nosense!
If you've ever been the one forgiven you feel it. Sudden lightness. The heavy presence of astonishment and gratitude. Humility, though it is embarrassing to admit. Peace, a word used so much we can forget how good it tastes.
But how do you do it?
In the dream I knew how! I was going to pray for the people who had caused her pain. It's maddening to write that, even though I have seen it work. (Pray for them?! They don't deserve that! Pride tries to rise up in my throat and choke my words.) I was going to pray for them and bless them, or at least pray for blessings for them. I knew it would work and the girl would be free. Honestly, forgiveness was not what I wanted to do to them, but I knew it was the right thing to do because it would work and she would be free. So that's what I purposed to do. Despite what I felt like, I would do it.