It’s mid-morning in the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco, Peru. Thin sunshine gilds the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, a monument to Spain’s colonial domination of the Incas. Pigeons coo, preen, and strut on nearby lawns. The mountain air is crisp and bracing, a tonic deep in my lungs.
My beautiful daughter, Hanna, stands in front of me, smiling. We have just concluded a week of travel, a torrid tour of Lima, Marcahuasi, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu. Hanna has been in country for a year, and because she’s an intrepid explorer, she guided me not only into the heart of Peru’s geography, but the heart of its people. Who else would have led me to share an evening cup of yerba with an Incan Shaman?
Now it’s time to say goodbye; my plane is at the airport. We embrace, and suddenly both of us are crying – warm, healing tears that flush out reservoirs of hurt so deep only God understood them.
“Dad,” says Hanna, “I never thought we would get to this point, not just father and daughter, but friends. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I answer, “More than you know.”
It’s a long hug, one of those moments with power and longevity far beyond its duration, an experience that engenders the word eternal. I don’t want to leave, but finally we let go and I climb into a taxi idling at the curb.
As we pull away, I can see Hanna in the side-view mirror. She raises her arm to wave goodbye and shouts, “I have the best dad in the world!”
The taxi driver glances sideways at me and gives a thumbs-up sign.
“Muy bueno,” he says.
“Si,” I answer. “Muy bueno. Un sueno hecho realidad.”
A dream? Yes. And a hope and a prayer. You see, both Hanna and I know full-well I was not a model father. My addiction and restlessness blunted the other side of me – the man who tried, and often succeeded, in loving his family. Then came the seismic upheaval of divorce, painful to everyone involved.
For years I carried the shame of my failures, wondering if I would ever find relief. One day, my new wife, with her customary folk wisdom, said, “Krin, God has forgiven you. When are you going to forgive yourself?”
Gradually, I received the peace of my pardon, transmuted by grace. Sometime after that, Hanna came to visit, and during that stay she vented on me – pent up anger that had long needed daylight. I had been waiting and praying for that instant, a chance for new relationship.
I listened without defense, absorbing every syllable. When silence settled, I said, “Hanna, I am truly sorry for my mistakes. But I have learned to forgive myself, and I hope someday you will be able to do the same. Until, or IF that happens, just remember this: I will always love you more than life itself.”
Now do you see how that moment in Cuzco was a miracle?
Friends, if you are praying for healing in any relationship, let me tell you something I steadfastly believe. God can heal the deepest wounds. God can redeem the time of our lives, giving us precious new beginnings.
I am living in the center of this truth. Shalom!