I first heard this story from my friend, Sister Emilie Ann, the
Adult Spirituality Director of Our Lady of Grace Parish in
Encino, CA. There are various adaptations to be found on the
internet, but I believe the original source to be a book entitled,
Will Daylight Come? by Richard Hoefler.
Johnny, a little boy and Sally, his older sister, were visiting
their grandparent’s farm.
As a gift, Johnny was
given a slingshot. He immediately ran off to practice in the
woods, but found he could never hit his intended targets.
Feeling discouraged, he headed back to the house for dinner.
Near the farmhouse, he saw his grandmother’s pet
duck. Impulsively, he let a rock fly from his slingshot. It hit
the duck square in the head, killing it instantly. Johnny was
shocked! In a panic, he frantically hid the dead duck, only to
discover that his sister was standing not five feet away. She
had silently witnessed everything.
Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” Sally said,
“Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.”
Johnny did the dishes.
morning Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing.
Grandma interjected, “I’m sorry but I need help preparing
supper.” Sally smiled smugly and said, “Johnny told me he
wanted to help.”
He squirmed, but she raised her
eyebrows and then whispered, “Remember the duck?”
Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.
Over the next several days, Johnny found himself
doing both his chores and Sally’s.
couldn’t stand it any longer.
He confessed to his
grandmother that he had killed her pet duck. She knelt down,
gave him a hug, and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see, I
was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. But
because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how
long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
Rabbi Brian’s comments:
Each of us is a
slave to our own guilt and our own sense that “we are not
enough.” Most of us struggle with the feeling that we could
have always done things better.
This is very
human. Experiencing guilt after having made a mistake is
what keeps us from making future blunders. But how long
are we going to torture ourselves over our past indiscretions?
God—and let’s just go with this anthropomorphic
notion of God for a moment—has seen everything we have
done and still loves us exactly as we are.
don’t care for that portrayal of God, the question still
remains: Can you find it within yourself the ability to forgive
yourself—faults and all?)