George Durner was a young American assistant living at Church Street in the 1970’s, in the days when the farm was an important part of Daybreak. He loves to tell the following story.
During my first year at Daybreak, I was a single assistant, living in a home. We received no salary, but got about $75 a month as “pocket money.” I saved my money all winter to buy a new pair of shoes. I had my heart set on what were called “Australian walking boots”. One Saturday In the spring I went to Toronto and bought them. They were beautiful – all shiny and new, soft brown leather. I placed them by the front door, ready for church the next day. But Sunday morning when I went to the front door to put them on, they were not there! I was so upset! I called all the homes looking for my new shoes.
Meanwhile that morning, Gord Henry was up at the barn doing the farm chores – feeding the animals and cleaning the stalls. Late that afternoon I received a call from Gord’s home telling me someone had found my shoes. Gord had worn them when he collectd the eggs! When my shoes were returned to me they had a whitish sort of glaze about them and smelled like chicken excretions. I could not believe it. It was a catastrophe! I was really angry.
The next morning Gord and I were supposed to work together in the egg room. When Gord saw me he immediately began apologizing and asking forgiveness. “I’m sorry, George; please don’t be mad George. We’re still friends, OK?” I didn’t say anything that morning. Forgiving him was out of the question. By noon, he was sick. He returned home for lunch but didn’t eat. All afternoon Gord continued to cry and to beg me to forgive him – my silence continued.
I was in an unusual situation personally. This was really the first time in my adult life that someone, another adult, was asking me to forgive them. My experience was that if someone did something mean to you, then you just got even. Acts of forgiveness were associated with weakness. The truth was that my desire for revenge, my desire to get even, my own sense of justice, my new, no-longer-shiny brown shoes; all of these were more important to me than Gord, more important than our relationship.
Gord did not come to work the next day. He was still in bed. He was, as I understand now, heartbroken. I slowly began to realize the enormous power that I had over the relationship between Gord and me. It was as if I had the relationship inside my closed fist and I was not going to open my hand and release it. But gradually, during the day, as Gord lay in bed in his room, I began to understand that my relationship with Gord was important to me, more important, really than my new shoes. And so I finally went to Gord’s home and sat beside his bed and told him that it was OK, that we sere still friends, that all was forgiven, that he didn’t have to think about it anymore. Gord was free – and so was I.
Click here to see George tell this story from Trosly-Breuil, near his present-day home in France.