A Mistake And A Miracle
Much of my childhood, I was surrounded by books. There was a shelf in our basement that covered a half a wall, extending from the floor all the way to the ceiling. It was perfect for climbing and each and every inch of it was filled with books. At family gatherings, my nose would be shoved inside a book. I was often told to go outside, climb a tree, do something and I would but not without a book.
I remember climbing trees with a book in one hand. I would hook the arm holding the book over a branch, grab tight with the other and pull myself up. The breeze would cause the tree to gently sway and I would rock in it for hours, soaking up sunshine along with the words on the page.
I remember sitting on the steps of the front porch, pen in hand and clipboard on my lap writing like the world would end if I stopped putting pencil to paper.
I remember taking these stories with me, sometimes covering a single sheet of paper and sometimes folded or stapled. I would carry them around like treasure and hand them out like candy. I never thought of them as just my own; never thought to hold them tight, to cherish them. They were simply a treasure to be shared.
Perhaps, this open-handed approach to my words was a mistake. You may wonder if they ever fell into the hands of the greedy, if they were ever misused. Sadly, they were.
There was one story I worked very hard on. I was very proud of my work. I showed it to my parents, and I gave it away as a gift to someone at a school I was attending. This person became an author and when my parents saw the story that this individual had published, they recognized the name and my work immediately. My work freely given from my tiny innocent hands had been published by someone else.
Perhaps, the free gift of my work was a mistake but that is not the way I choose to see it. I see it as a multifaceted opportunity. In having my work published, I knew that I could write and write well. My story was presented to the world. In having my early work plagiarized, I learned the value of a copyright and file for a copyright now for all of my work to protect it. In having my work stolen, I was given the opportunity to take part in a miracle.
You may be balking at that word: miracle. You may be thinking surely, this mistake is not the opportunity for a miracle, but I assure you it is. The natural thing to do in this situation is get defensive, hide my work away, be offended. I could have chosen this path, but I did not. I chose to participate in the miracle of forgiveness. I chose not to know who published my work under their name. I chose not to hold a grudge. I chose to forgive and the ability to forgive is a miracle in itself. It is not natural. It is not expected. It is not normal. Forgiveness is a miracle.
I like to think that this act of forgiveness, opened doors. It allowed my creativity to continue to flow. It allowed me to continue to bless others. Perhaps it benefited the one who had taken advantage of me and while I don’t condone their actions, I actually hope that this is true. I hope that they are blessed. I hope that they thrive. I hope nothing but the best for their life, and that in itself is a miracle.
Complete and possibly unnecessary disclaimer: Chelan Ku does not encourage you to climb trees holding a book as she did. Do so at your own risk.