I remember sitting across the table from my friend Michelle, telling her about my friend Lyle (Mercy29.org), who was in negotiations with an Indian mine owner who enslaved hundreds of people, many of them young children, all of whom worked sun up to sun down and were fed one meal a day. They had horrors placed upon them that most human minds won’t willingly go. I won’t take you there. Lyle was negotiating the release of one of these children. Her name is Anitha. I was distraught, and near panic trying to figure out a way to help him get all of these people freed. I was angry. I was beyond angry, actually. I hated the mine owner. I hated him, and I wished him… gone.
There are two things I remember specifically that Michelle said as I was telling her the situation, because they were so powerful. First she laid her head atop her arms resting on the table, and said, “Oh, I just want to pray right now”, and shortly after, “I wish I could just sit across from him and hear his story”.
She went somewhere I go first, too… prayer. But then she went where I had not dared go. She went, with compassion, to the perpetrator; and with one question… she humanized him.
What was it that took place in his life that allowed him to think enslaving human beings was okay?
What. was. his. story.
In the wake of yet another devastating school shooting, I see that although more than three years have passed since that conversation at my table, the question has not left me. I cannot listen to these tragedies on the news and not ask, “what is his story?”.
On Friday, I started to wonder if I was losing it. Grieving over the loss of all of these sweet little children, and teachers, but also for this young man who lost his way. Whose story I do not know. Whose story I may never know. I go back and forth with God… surely there is a line that can be crossed… but He says no. His love knows no bounds. It just doesn’t. Nobody is beyond His reach.
A phrase goes through my head, “There is only one love that loves unconditionally – the love of the divine”. I won’t claim to understand it, and I won’t try to explain it away. I will only pray to have more of it. In me. Through me.
The story of Anitha, Lyle, and the mine owner has an incredible ongoing ending, and if you’re interested in hearing what’s happened, watch this video, and meet my sweet friend, Lyle, as he talks about one of his daughters, Anitha.