Last week I was watching Oprah. I hope you were sitting down when you read that sentence! Are you shocked and appalled? You mean I wasn't watching PBS? Listening to NPR? Practicing my Spanish? Sigh..nope I was watching Oprah and perhaps even leafing through a People magazine. Tanya Harding was the guest. Remember her? 15 years ago (really, 15? wow) she was connected to what surely must be on the top 10 of modern shocking sports stories. She and rival Nancy Kerrigan were going head to head in the national figure skating championships with spots on the 1992 Olympic team at stake. And then BAM! There's the lovely Nancy Kerrigan crying hysterically on national TV after what appeared at first to be a random act of violence. A masked man came up to her in the hall of the skating arena and leveled a baseball bat across her beautiful talented knees. Later it was revealed that the man and his accomplice were linked to Tanya Harding. Cue the music! This is the set up for a crazy Lifetime TV movie! Nancy's career went forward she worked her head off to rehab her knee in record time, and won silver at the Olympics. (She did have a momentary misstep when she made a slightly disparaging comment about that year's Olympic darling Oksana Bahul) And Tanya...well...Tanya descended into the ranks of late night TV punchline, B-list celebrity appearances, and of course, female boxing and wrestling.
So in between my reading Sartre and Hebrew poetry, I glanced up at Oprah and there she was. Tanya actually looked quite beautiful and healthy and she said to Oprah, "I've been apologizing for 15 years, and I think that's enough." Some audience members clapped. More clapped when she talked about divorcing the brilliant mastermind behind the whole scheme.
And I wondered. She said she had told Nancy that she was sorry "for her part" and that they had appeared publicly together. And yes, at some point we do need to be "done" with our penance.
It's just interesting to think about. Most of us don't do such crazy public "sin". But we can find ourselves in the part of this story that's about wanting to take short cuts. Obviously the crime was the actual assault, and I've never done anything like that. But I wonder how often my desire for short cuts has taken me down a path that results in my need to be forgiven.
And once I've done something that needs forgiving when is that "over?" Tanya Harding could discover a cure for cancer (or the swine flu) and forever she'll be that girl that hurt (or helped to hurt) Nancy Kerrigan. Bill Clinton will forever be linked with Monica Lewinsky, a woman I know in a very small town seems to be labeled always, "that women who cheated on her husband." It's just interesting.
I think it is true that forgiveness does not equal forgetfulness. Reflection upon those who have hurt me and those whom I have hurt is necessary for my growth and development. But at the same time, when is it "enough already". How do we put on the mind of God in such circumstances? And maybe even if "we" can "the public" can't...and I'm not even sure who all I mean when I say "we" and "public."
Short of being able to rewind that whole ugly incident Tanya Harding will forever be tarnished by it, but in all of that there surely must be forgiveness. I'm just not completely clear what that looks like.
Peace to you all on this end of April day, Rhoda