Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apology Accepted

What is the statute of limitations on "coming clean" to wrongdoing? There is a story out of the Netherlands about a woman, now a frail 96-year-old, who has admitted to murdering a man 65 years ago. Atie Ridder-Visser was a member of the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation and she thought, mistakenly it turns out, that Felix Gulje was a Nazi informer. In truth Gulje has secretly harboured Jews. After the war, in 1946, she knocked on his door and shot him dead. Her crime went undetected but for some reason Ridder-Visser decided to confess after all those years.

The latest United Church Observer contains the hand-printed letter of a man who broke into a church in Binscarth Manitoba in 1989, more than twenty years ago. He left the letter in the church along with four $100 bills and said that he had lived with regret for all those years. He apologizes to the congregation and to God. The article is entitled Apology Accepted.

Is it ever too late to say we're sorry? Did either of these two need to do this after so many years? Have you lived with regret for past actions, or felt that God couldn't/wouldn't forgive you? You don't need to "dish" on details!


Laura said...

It seems that saying you are sorry so many years later has more to do with our own healing, than the persons' we have hurt. Somehow saying things out loud can lighten our own conscience. Forgiving ourselves can be very hard for lesser errors in judgement than Atie committed so I am thinking of her now, hoping that some sense of peace has been found. Both the examples you stated seem to tell of deep regret and lives transformed so perhaps thAt is more important than timing. I believe God to be extremely patient.

sjd said...

I can't imagine the stresses that residents of the Netherlands endured during the war. I've read, and been told stories by people who lived through it. It would be easy to make a mistake like she did. If he was a Nazi informant she could have saved many lives. Unfortunately it turned out to be a "friendly fire" incident.
It must have been a tremendous burden to carry all those years.