Sunday night I watched The Tale of Despereaux on DVD, a story of cowardice and courage, heartache and healing, retribution and forgiveness. After a fatal accident on Soup Day, the Kingdom of Dor mourns. The king grieves, soup is banned, and a thick darkness covers the land. The kingdom turns its hurt into hatred for all rats. Princess Pea turns her pain into sharp words that pierce the servant girl, Miggery Sow. Roscuro sets out to make amends but is met with blind rage and disgust. Grief unites Miggery Sow and Roscuro in a plan to pay back the princess. The kingdom grows ever darker and the king drowns in the song of his sorrow.
The characters were caught in a web of hurt, and the more they fought to free themselves, the more they enslaved themselves.
There have been times when I have found myself tangled in this very web. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, bloody their nose. If someone forces you to walk one mile, make them run two. If you are insulted, humiliate. If you are punished, retaliate. If you are ignored, dissociate. It's a hurting world hurting others. "Everyone cut, cuts back again - and double."
Enter Despereaux Tilling. Despereaux was a mouse who believed a different story - one about courage, chivalry, honor, and love. His nonconformity secured him an exile from Mouseworld. His own father pounded the drum that sent his son to the dungeon of Ratworld. His mother bade him farewell without pleading his innocence or offering to take his place. Talk about hurt.
But, unlike the other characters, Despereaux refused to cut back. With a single act of forgiveness, the web unraveled.
There are forces in this world that are strong; forces like anger, bitterness, hatred, and grief. But there is a power greater still. In its light, shadows scurry. In its might, slave masters succumb. In its sight, strongholds crumble. It is a dressing for open wounds and salve for sorrow. For what force can stand in the face of forgiveness?