Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The greatest Oprah of all time

Chris Rock, the comedian, was recalling an episode of Oprah Winfrey during which a woman confessed to her husband that she had frittered away $300,000 and as a consequence their home was about to be possessed. “By the end of the show, it was all the guy's fault,” a clearly impressed Mr Rock told David Letterman. “He was apologising for not loving her enough - it was the greatest Oprah of all time.”

L's departure was - after two years at the rescue house - frightfully sudden, but not wholly unexpected considering his behaviour (or, as it is called here, his comportamento) in the weeks approaching his leaving. Always one of the more difficult cases (I like the difficult cases), he was - like J - another bright, able and strong-willed kid from Crackland. Unlike J, though, he had no close family to speak of and his time with us has been marked by stratospheric highs (the threshold of adoption) and catastrophic lows (a relapse into drugs at school and then several attention-seeking attempts to run away).

And so – as when any relationship terminates suddenly – the inevitable self-analysis begins. Was I culpable, in whole or part? Did I contribute in some way, by deed or omission? Could I have loved more? Better? In many cases the answer is invariably yes, to a greater or lesser extent. One can always love more, stupid. But in this case, the answer is solidly in the negative.

When I think of the countless times he fell and we restored him, he lied, cheated, manipulated, stole...but forgiveness was always forthcoming. The demonstrations of, yes, unconditional love.

But, with him, the arrogance always seemed to overwhelm any possible realization of grace. The assumption of forgiveness was – and is – so wrong on so many levels. Just as the poor can love money, even in poverty there can be a particularly reprehensible arrogance.

“[Last] summer, Catalonia's employment agency offered jobs picking fruit to 7,800 unemployed people. Less than 1,700 accepted. Many of those [who did] were thought to be of non-Spanish origin.” The Economist, August 14th 2010

Asking why someone would reject a refuge is a bit like asking a mathematician why a minus times a minus equals a plus. Try it. He cannot answer, except by specific reference to the man-made artificialities of algebra. Outside of these, the concept has no application and (worse still) no meaning. And, similarly, I am tempted to conclude from this episode that L's actions have no meaning. However, just because something seems meaningless to me doesn't mean that it is beyond understanding. Just my understanding.

I earnestly hope that L finds help and a refuge that can serve him elsewhere.
Anyway, who can understand grace, really?

“Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:10)

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