Garden of Grace: Winter words

Christine Laws, Special to The County
9 years ago

“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle [dove] is heard in our land.”
(Song of Solomon 2:11,12 KJV)

Why had she sent that e-mail full of icy accusations? She resented the changes that had been made to her already-published story, but why the personal attack? And on top of that, she had insisted on reviewing her next edited piece.
Because she disagreed with those changes, she had hurled snowballs at the editor, who happened to be me. And they weren’t just snowballs — ice lurked in the middle. She had investigated my background, using that information against me. An editor friend said that I should feel flattered. After all, the writer had obviously invested some time learning how best to hurt my feelings.
But I felt offended, not flattered. As I reread the e-mail, as I pondered those glacial words, I kindled a fire of indignation. My ears burned; my face flushed hot. If she could only understand all that an editor has to consider … If she could only realize why those changes had been made …
While that fire roared in my ears, I had to reply to her e-mail coolly, kindly. I had to apologize for her blizzard of turmoil, forgetting my own. I allowed myself to explain one change, hoping she would apply that reasoning to the rest. After I replied and had attached her edited story, whenever a new e-mail arrived, my heart pounded. Was this one from her? Would she demand that I make inappropriate changes? What would she complain about next?
That night I hardly slept, feeling trapped between her chilling words and my fiery indignation. But at some point, two new words dropped into my mind like a refreshing spring shower, extinguishing the fire that had burned for too long. And as soon as they came, I knew what I must do. Those two words? “Forgive her.”
She had never thought to apologize; I doubt she even realized how cold her words had been. Did that matter? My Father has forgiven me so often and for so much; surely I could forgive someone for an insensitive e-mail.
Surprisingly, her next words felt more like June than January. Had she understood my explanation? Had that clarified the other edits? No matter. Somehow her tone had thawed, and she even asked a couple of thoughtful questions about punctuation, which I gladly answered. As I sent my reply, relief swept over me like a refreshing breeze. Winter had finally passed, and I could rejoice in the warmth of spring.
 Christine Laws is a freelance writer and editor living in Amity. Her essays, poems, and stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and church papers. She is also the author of “Fresh and Fruitful: Cultivating the Art of Writing.”