This morning I wrote on Facebook: "it's snowing... again! (beauty and danger) -not so good if you're queuing for an op. UDA are supposed to have decommissioned (worth waiting for? I hope so!). I wonder what mixture of beauty and trouble lies ahead... "
At 6pm, I heard another dangerous and strangely beautiful thing. Deeply saddening, and at the same time humanising, Peter Robinson barely held his composure whilst telling us of the crisis in his marriage and Iris' affair and suicide attempt. I've never met either Peter or Iris, but I have often disagreed with what I saw of them in the media. I have judged them for their apparent judgmentalism, and what has appeared to me their ungracious engagement with political opponents. Most recently I was angry with the First Minister for failing to show the minimum grace to the Catholic population and some normal humanity by issuing a statement on the passing of Cardinal Daly.
My heart was transformed by seeing him as a weak, pained, human being. How danger and fragility brings about beauty!
It was a beautiful thing, to hear him speak of his journey from wanting to ditch Iris, to realising he loves her, appreciates what it has cost her to be married to him, and wants to save their marriage work.
But the danger note was struck again when I heard him say, "I have done nothing wrong." I think he meant in terms of his role as First Minister, but it had broken the spell. For a second, I had thought he was saying, "I'm the victim here!"
So many righteous people think we have been injured and wronged (and so we have) but we fail to see how our way of being, our words, our rightness, have quietly crushed our neighbours, denied them access to our God, left them feeling that they could never be good enough... and how our failure to walk in others' shoes has led us to effectively exclude them from things that might have enabled them to live peaceably as our neighbours, even embrace us as brothers.
God, forgive me for judging the Robinsons, as if I knew what it was to be them. Teach me to let you be judge, while I learn to love as graciously as Jesus. Surround them with wise advisors and loving friends, and above all, let them find that their one real strength is in this: that you loved instead of judging, that you chose to die rather than punish... and so may the future of our land be found in the story of grace. As you give our First minister courage to forgive and rebuild, let us all be empowered to build a seriously better future. And let the powers that would drag us backwards to competing with each other instead find that the only real victory is in listening, giving, forgiving and sharing.