The past returns to haunt…
July 20, 2008

I received a call on Friday last asking me if I could edit a photograph and take a person out of the picture. I agreed and the caller dropped the photograph off to be reworked. They want it ready for an up-coming school reunion.

Many years ago I taught with a man who was charged with and convicted on  many counts of sexual assault against children in our community. I haven’t thought about him or the children for some time. The perpetrator died many years ago following his conviction. The healing process has been a long one and I suspect there are some who may never heal. I am reminded of this time in our past when we hear stories of pedophilia in the news.

It was the image of the perpetrator I was asked to remove from a school group photograph. Easily done! But while erasing the image I began to think about what exactly I was doing. Does erasing his image change anything at all? We cannot erase or undo history regardless of how we feel about the content. The man did exist. He still did the terrible things. Erasing his image doesn’t change that at all.

All of this happened about thirty years ago and the message I am discerning is that the wounds are still very deep for some. Perhaps not having this individual’s image in the class photograph of 19xx may allow those who were abused to feel more comfortable with their peers. The abused children are now adults in their 40s with childen of their own and I wonder how they reconcile their lost innocence in relationship with their own children.

I wonder if the abused will ever be free of the stigma attached to this time in their history. Perhaps the electronic eraser I am using will allow them to enjoy their weekend with old classmates without the memories of the bad times. I hope so. How does one heal from something such as this? Is it possible to forgive someone who has perpetrated such wrong on others?

Today I prayed for their healing.                  GRB