Friday, June 18, 2010

Immaculée Ilibagiza puts everything in perspective

One of the unexpected pleasures of my week at Acton has been hearing the story of this amazing woman.  For many of us, our knowledge of the genocide in Rwanda came through reading news stories or by watching Don Cheadle's fantastic performance in Hotel Rwanda.  I received an extraordinary gift on Wednesday night by getting to hear Immaculée IIibagiza's real-life story of the genocide.

This young lady, who you can learn more about here, managed to hide from machete-wielding murderers in a small bathroom with 7 other women for over 3 months.  They were brought food by a man who had to be so secretive about their presence that not even his children knew. 

If Anselm was right, and theology is faith seeking understanding, then Wednesday night gave those of us attending Acton University a live theology lesson.  Immaculée not only managed to survive this ordeal, which she attributes to praying the rosary which her father gave her before he saw her for the last time, but she managed to forgive those who killed her family (all of them were wiped out) and the relatives of those killers.  Her living testament to this love and forgiveness was to rebuild her family's house.  In the spirit of forgiveness, Hutus and Tutsis now pray the Rosary together in that house weekly.

To be sure, we are studying great ideas, but the sentiment of my tablemates as we stood up from that talk, touched by Immaculee's humility, forgiveness, and strength, was the same: "everything else doesn't really seem to matter much, does it?"

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