Shattered Glass Lessons
One day last
summer Grant and Russell were in the front yard playing baseball
with their cousins when I heard a loud bang. I ran down the hall,
opened the doors, and looked outside.
"It was an accident…" said Russell.
"He didn’t aim to…" said Price.
"We’re really sorry," said Thomas.
I followed their eyes to the pane of beveled glass in the center
of the door. As the six of us watched there was a soft crackling
sound, similar to the snap, crackle, pop of my cereal when I add
milk. The round circle where the ball had impacted was now growing
into a spider’s web before our very eyes.
"Okay, which one of you did it?" I asked accusingly.
For a moment there was silence, then Grant stepped forward.
"I did," he said softly. "And I’m really
I took a deep breath. His bottom lip was quivering and he was
trying hard not to cry. I told him I forgave him, warned them all
not to play so close to the house, and made a mental note to buy
metal doors the next time we remodeled.
The next morning I was on my way to the kitchen to make coffee
when I spied Grant standing alone in the hallway, staring at the
door and the shattered glass. He was unaware of my presence and as
I watched him, a single tear slid down his cheek.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Barbara Tuchman was once asked what
she thought was most needed in the next century. "Probably
personal responsibility," she replied, explaining that this
means "taking responsibility for your behavior and your
expenditures and your actions, and not forever supposing that
society must forgive you because it’s not your fault."
I suspect that Tuchman is right.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone’s New Year’s resolution this
year was to take responsibility for their actions instead of
blaming it on someone or something else? Wouldn’t it be wonderful
if everyone knew that being genuinely sorry means being repentant
in our hearts…even when no one is looking.