Well, it’s Pearl Harbor Day, also the birthday of my sixth grade English teacher, Ms. Ellis. She was never one of my favorite teachers, but my best friend really disliked her because when Ms. Ellis was rebuking her once for some behavior or other (probably talking in class—that’s the only misbehavior we knew how to do back then) she said, “Your parents may let you act like that at home, but it’s not acceptable here,” and my friend took that as an insult to her parents, and never forgave the teacher for it. I also remember Ms. Ellis for misusing a Bible quote. When she punished the whole class for something one student did, she’d say, “It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.” But that quote, which is from the Sermon on the Mount, is an example Jesus used to illustrate God’s grace and mercy, to remind us that we all receive God’s blessings even though we are sinners. On Pearl Harbor Day, I always remember Ms. Ellis, and that reminds me of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and while I’m forgiving the Japanese Imperial Air Force, I’m also trying to forgive my sixth grade English teacher. As one Pearl Harbor survivor said, “forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.”
In thinking of Ms. Ellis’s transgressions, I also automatically remember my years as a teacher, and all the times I spoke carelessly or inaccurately, the times I inadvertently insulted or hurt one of my students. It happens, even when you care a lot and pay attention. So I need forgiveness, too. I hope my former students have forgotten the mistakes I made.