But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you…. Matthew 5:44
On April 25, 1866, a group of Confederate widows in Columbus, Mississippi, traveled to the Odd Fellows Cemetery where many of their husbands were buried. The Civil War was over, but nerves were raw. These women bore flowers for the graves of their dead. But as they decorated the Confederate graves, they were struck by the barrenness of those of Union soldiers who had perished in nearby battles and been buried there, far from home. The women spontaneously adorned those graves too. A reporter said, “No distinction was made between our own Confederate dead and the Federal soldiers who slept their last sleep by them … Confederate and Federals, once enemies, now friends receiving their tribute of respect.”
Many people hail that moment as the beginning of national healing; and inspired by the story, Francis Finch later wrote “The Blue and the Gray,” which was sung at civic observances for years.1
Nothing is gained by holding a grudge. Jesus told us to love our enemies. When wronged, we should not seek retribution, but reconciliation. Is there someone you can forgive today?
I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. Helen Keller