Letters From Okinawa
Karl Taylor was an American warehouse worker, and his wife, Edith, a factory worker in Waltham, Massachusetts; a very devoted couple, they had been married for twenty three years. Whenever Karl’s job took him out of town, he would write Edith a long letter, accompanied by a gift, from wherever he was.
In January of 1949, Karl was posted to Okinawa to manage a US warehouse.
Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture, consisting of a dozen few Islands which are also known as the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa, stage of one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, when American troops invaded the Islands, remained under American administration until 1972.
As the months rolled by, Edith preoccupied herself by purchasing an unfinished picturesque cottage, and worked hard to complete it. It was going to be a surprise gift for Karl when he came back.
Karl’s letter writing became infrequent, and for some reason, he seemed to prefer a protraction of his overseas stay beyond the call of duty.
Finally, tragedy struck in the form of a letter from Okinawa:
“Dear Edith, I wish I could find a kinder way to break this news, but we are no longer married……”
Karl had applied to Mexico for a divorce, and had been granted his request by post. “……and Edith, I am sorry to inform you that I will soon get married to a Japanese girl over here. She is eighteen years old, and I love her very much. Please forgive me…”
Edith was forty eight years old, and she was shattered and grief-stricken. She had sufficient justification to be bitter, towards Karl and the Japanese girl, ‘Aiko’. Edith, instead, chose to make excuses for Karl’s conduct.
He had been lonely, and so far away from home, she tearfully rationalized.
She wasn’t convinced that the marriage would work, and Karl would soon come home.
But Karl did not come home. His next letter announced that he and Aiko were expecting a baby. The girl, Marie, was born in 1951, followed closely by Helen’s arrival in 1953. Edith sent the little girls presents at their christening, and life went on.
Another letter arrived from Okinawa…Karl was dying from lung cancer. His medical expenses had wiped out his savings.
What would become of Aiko and the girls?
Edith decided the last gift she could possibly give her former husband was peace of mind. She offered to take the two children to live with her in.
In 1956, the little girls arrived in America, quickly adjusting to their new environment, and making Edith a very happy woman.
Aiko, all alone in Okinawa, was a very unhappy person. She would write pathetic letters to Edith. Were the girls doing well? Did they cry often?
Finally, Edith decided her love for Karl still demanded another price: She would have to bring the children’s mother to live with her in the United States.
As the plane landed, Edith was suddenly gripped by fear.
“Help me, dear God, to love this poor girl, as if she were part of Karl. I prayed for Karl to come to me, now he has, in the form of his two little daughters and this poor, gentle girl that he loved. Help me God to love them as I loved Karl. Help me, God.”
She wept uncontrollably.
The last passenger to disembark was a thin, frail girl, looking no more than a child. She called out Aiko’s name, and the hapless girl rushed down the steps into Edith’s arms.
Edith and Aiko lived together, raising Karl’s two children. *
This is a remarkable and story of selfless forgiveness. This is because the tale itself has traces of divinity in it.
One of the greatest lessons we can learn is how to forgive. Anger, hatred and resentment all set up barriers that deprive us of spiritual power. Truly, unforgiving and malevolent grudge is a cancer of the soul.
There will always be facts concealed from us, and known only to God, and that is why it is more appropriate to leave the judging to Him.
Secondly, you have to become a compassionate person. This remains a difficult thing to do when you are wronged, since the instinctive and primordially animalistic reaction is to fight back and inflict hurt when you think you are wronged.
Compassion actually involves putting yourself in another’s shoes.
Thirdly, you will need to creatively visualize the entire situation in terms of a reconciliatory attitude. This means actually and actively visualizing the fractured relationship as healed. Picture the poisons of anger and resentment vacating your system. Permit your imagination to run riot with images of what you will accomplish with a renewed, wholesome relationship with the person.
Fourthly, it is imperative that you realize that forgiving the person will be of greater benefit to you than to him.
Simply, by a conscious act of your will, refuse to hold a grudge against anyone. You cannot develop upper level personality if you allow yourself to collect and hold grievance of any sort. There is an amusing angle to holding grievance. While you are preoccupied with your grudge against some people, they are out dancing and making merry, blissfully and totally oblivious of your negative feelings toward them.
Forgiveness is your key to the kingdom of inner peace. You will find, as is the case with most people, that it is the hardest, yet the most important thing you will ever do. The beauty of this cathartic process is that it will set you free from the past, and wonderfully free up your mind for divine creativity. Allow no man to belittle your soul by making you hate him.
Forgiveness is the key to the kingdom of mental and spiritual development. When you become a totally forgiving person, you are emulating the character traits of some of the greatest men and women ever to walk on this earth, and in the process putting yourself on the side of the angels.
The regular practice of freely forgiving everyone for everything will make you a calmer, kinder and more compassionate being. Forgiveness ranks as the greatest spiritual act of love you could ever muster for yourself, and for others.
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