Forgiving hate, finding healing

Years ago, a friend of mine, a young black woman, was walking up the stairs to exit a subway station. As she reached the top of the stairs, she walked by a man who was asking passersby for coins. The man was of a different race than she was. As she walked by him, without any provocation, he started yelling at her and called her a name that is hateful and denigrating. Stunned, she went on her way, wondering why he was taking out his rage on her.

Afterward, each time the incident came to thought, the young woman pushed it aside as best she could, but memories of it were jarring. She recalled the idiom “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Well, that certainly wasn’t true in this case.

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