Forgiveness – a Story and a Project

by Mary K. Clark.

Revenge? Forgiveness? Busyness?  Paul Vallely suggests that there is more involved in forgiveness than we might think. He shares with us the revealing story of Eric Lomax  who recently passed away, in an article entitled, The ultimate heroism is forgiving the enemy.  (This site does take a moment or two to load.)

This story is about two human beings involved in World War II, one a prisoner of war and the other a man who brutally tortured him. Vallely writes:

We tell three stories about how a human being can respond to barbarity. One is the tragedy of revenge. One offers the hope of forgiveness. And one diverts itself with furious activity in an attempt to forget. But the story of Eric Lomax refuses to conform neatly to such templates.

Lomax, who died on Monday aged 93, was one of thousands of British soldiers taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1942 and forced to build the 418-mile railway to Burma.

. . . It took [Lomax] 50 years to exorcise his demons. Few of us have the strength for that.

Eric Lomax’s story, in his own words is found on a remarkable UK site called The Forgiveness Project. This site is a wonderful resource replete with a diverse group of written stories on the topic of forgiveness, some with unexpected endings.

What stories or other resources have you connected with forgiveness, along your journey, that might be a resource for others?

– Mary


©Copyright 10/21/2012  by Mary K. Clark.  All Rights Reserved.

6 thoughts on “Forgiveness – a Story and a Project”

  1. From Richard Martin, Darmstadt, Germany:

    The tale of revenge, forgiveness and reconciliation I keep in my back pocket is Orcadian story, The Wounded Selkie. It was first posted here on the list many years ago.

    For personal reasons I set the tale off the north tip of the island of Westray. (When my sons were young teenagers they spent an adventurous day on a lobster boat. My wife and I were walking along the north tip and saw them far below, bobbing about on this boat.) Last month I told the tale and two listeners had actually been to Westray and walked along that very cliff!

    The tale is here:

  2. From Mary Grace Ketner,

    I thought of the forgiveness story Mark Wilson sent to the Storytell listserv more than once: Malba Tahan’s “Learning How to Write in the Sand.” Here’s the summary from Jackie Baldwin’s site (

    Two merchants, Mussah and Nagib are traveling together with their caravans and they stop at a riverside. Nagib trips and falls into the torrent, and Mussah saves him. Nagib has his servants carve onto the stone face of a nearby mountain “Traveler, in this place did Mussah heroicly save the life of his friend Nagib.” On the way back, they get into an argument somehow, and Mussah strikes Nagib. Nagib picks up a stick and writes in the sand “Traveler, in this place did Mussah break the heart of his friend Nagib.” A servant asks: “Master, when Mussah saved your life, you had the words carved into stone, but now that he has insulted you, you write it in the sand. The words will be gone, washed away by the tide, before the morning.” Nagib says “Yes, my friend; and if you would be happy, you must learn what to carve into stone and what to write in the sand.”

    That story is from Tahan’s book, Maktub, though on Jackie’s site it is credited to another of his books, The Man Who Counted. The comment is unsigned, but it was probably I who misassigned it.

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