40 Years in America

Godís Sweet Grace

John Bowles

Sometimes our lives change without our knowing it until better understanding arrives later.

Not too long ago, while lying on the floor under an industrial floor scrubber, repairing a broken hydraulic line, I had the most unexpected sensation of forgiveness -- actually of both forgiving and being forgiven. While metal chips and oily dirt fell on my hair and face, there came suddenly out of nowhere strong and clear mental images of certain central figures I had formed a dislike of and even harbored resentment toward. My July 1997 visit to Chung Pyung relieved this resentfulness somewhat. But honestly speaking, deep down I still blamed others for difficulties in life.

But now, on this quiet Saturday morning, something was different. As these personsí faces appeared one by one before my mindís eye, there was a melting away of any anger towards them. In fact, I found myself wanting to serve them. Personally. Directly. If only I could get out of this place and give my support for even the most difficult, most obnoxious person on Earth, it would be great -- as long as it was for Godís will. It was then on that cool hard floor that the awesomeness of Jesusí words about forgiving seventy-times-seventy times hit hard.

And True Father too, he has been doing this too, time and painful time again in his own life. It was a wonderful feeling. How was Godís grace working for me like this?

What was happening? Where did this new attitude begin? Was it some newfound desire to work in South America? Hopefulness? Wishful thinking? Nothing unusual had happened recently. What was going on?

As I reached for wrenches and disconnected fittings, my thoughts began drifting, searching, running in the background of my mind for some clue as to the origin of this new-found compassion. In reality it is very hard to link one specific cause to one specific effect in our complex lives, but there was one possibility that came to mind. An experience simple and humbling.

Remembering it in this context made me choke out loud at the implications and brought tears to my eyes. I felt sorry for not trusting God and True Parents more over all these years. Wiping a speck of dirt from my eye, I began to remember a bizarre event from the previous summer.

It happened at a Native American Powwow in the countryside north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. My family and I were tending a pre-Blessing cold drinks table to serve the thirsty dancers and Powwow visitors suffering from 100-degree temperatures.

It must have been late in the second day of our activities there that a young Indian girl, about 13 or 14 years old, began appearing at to our table. Our supply of "drinks" (served in little 5-ounce cups) was limited, so I began to get a little incensed at her repeated visits. Claire cautioned me against taking action because, who knows what the spiritual world might be working out at an event like this -- the whole Powwow event was incredibly spiritual, as was our own work. You are right, dear, I agreed reluctantly, as Miss Pocahontas brought a friend along for more refreshments. Yes, Claire must be right, I thought. Maybe we are here to right some wrong done to her ancestors, or to keep something bad from happening now, or she is actually distributing this blessing to her family members elsewhere. Who knows?

Multiplication of goodness -- of course, no problem. Yes, thereís some hidden value I could not see. But then, she and her friend returned with glass jars! I almost couldnít restrain myself. Claire, the true heart of our family, remained adamant. Maybe we have a big debt to pay to her, she cautioned, maybe a great big debt. I felt sorry inside and repented. The day ended without her returning. We did more Powwow work that summer and had other inspiring experiences, but I will always remember that unbearable sun and a young Native American girl. Is there a connection between these two experiences? My mind couldnít say exactly, but my heart said, Yes. Gratitude followed.

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