How Bitter is Bitter?

A constant source of joy in walking at dawn is meeting fellow walkers and hearing your own voice and theirs chirping, “Good morning!”

There aren’t too many of them—rising before the sun is up is, after all, an ambitious endeavor, especially for people held captive by electronic gadgets through the night.

One of my meet-and-greet friends is a middle-aged man who walks with his dog. Let’s call him Masiong—he with a baritone voice that shoo away the last remnants of sleep, "Good morning!"

For years, that was my ritual with him and the few others whose voices signal roosters to crow and households to stir.  

Then one fortuitous day, Tony (my husband), an officer of our neighborhood organization, had a meeting with 11 others. They had to decide whether to approve or disapprove the application for a carwash shop along our road. All except one voted "nay."

I was unaware that the applicant was Masiong.

The next time I met him on the road, he made a U-turn. "Lovely day!" I called out. He quickened his pace.    

"Guess what," Tony said later that week, "our neighbor Masiong just gave me a severe sneer. I wonder if he knows that I wasn't alone in denying his application for a carwash shop. It was almost a unanimous decision." 

"Come again?” 

Tony explained, and I agreed, that a carwash shop in our quiet neighborhood would create traffic; invite noise, strangers and maybe crimes; deplete our water supply, etc.”

Masiong was naturally disappointed. 

Fast forward to five years later.

At dawn, on the days that I walk, Masiong with his dog either makes a U-turn or cranks his head away from me. He also does the same with Ate Vi, our long-time househelp, who is another early riser.  

Bitter, he was. Bitter, he is. And bitter, will he always be?       

Who can hold a grudge that long and still survive? How can anyone withhold the grace of forgiveness that was freely given on the cross to even the most evil of men?

Dozens of verses in the Bible call us to steer clear of bitterness. One of them is, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31 (ESV)

Tomorrow, like I always do, I will chirp, “Lovely day!”

Who knows? I just might hear Masiong’s baritone voice again.  

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