04/02/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Nirmala’s story or the power of Lent to forgive

by Melani Manel Perera
The Catholic woman (who converted from Buddhism) did not accept her son's decision to marry a young poor Buddhist woman. For five years, the two have had no contact until this Lent when Nirmala forgave her son, overcoming misunderstandings.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Nirmala Indrani is a 56-year-old Catholic woman, mother of two grown children (one male and one female), and a member of a parish in the Archdiocese of Colombo.

A good mother to her children, and a good wife, she used to work for a major company.

She decided to share her experience of Lent, which she calls "a true interior conversion". Here it is.

"I raised my children without the care and support of my beloved husband after he passed away in 2004 following a sudden illness. Like myself, he was a Buddhist convert who led a good life of faith in God and was a good husband and a good father to my children.

"I made so many sacrifices in order to give my children a good education. I raised them and taught them the difference between right and wrong and good values. But suddenly, a dark cloud fell upon us and upset our life. It destroyed our family’s love and unity.

“Right after my husband’s untimely death, one of my children told me of his love affair with a Buddhist girl who lived in a village in another district. She also came from a poor family. I refused to give my approval, and I told him that he could not make any decision in the matter until I gave my consent.”

From that moment on, Nirmala constantly scolded her son, warning him against making stupid decisions. After a year, one morning, as soon as he left for work, something inside her drove her to go into her son's room. On a table, there was a farewell letter.

“I had a great shock. I did not know what to think. My son wrote to me saying that he was going to start a life with that girl and that he would marry her in a civil ceremony. I felt like I was on fire all over, as if I were about to die.

“I felt as if on that day I had lost my son forever. I thought about how I could face my daughter, how I could talk to her about it. I had so many questions and felt I had lost everything. I felt like God had abandoned me."

“I tried to call my son on the phone to ask him to come back and talk to me. But for two days the phone was turned off. Later, even though it was on, he did not answer. Having tried many times to contact him on the phone I gave up, and tried to live with the unbearable pain.

“For about five years, we had no contact. Last December, however, my son called me to give me the good news of the birth of their little daughter. At that point, I went to them to see the child and something inside me prompted me to forgive them and accept them.

“About six years ago, I was a very hard woman. Although I had a good life, I could not understand the true meaning of Lent or what Jesus asks us to do at this time.

“I followed the Way of the Cross, recited the hours, did meditation . . . but I performed these spiritual activities just for their own sake. Only this year did I understand what Lent meant.

“After taking part in the activities organised by the parish for these 40 special days, I changed my attitudes and my ideas. I forgave my son and promised Jesus that I would give my full support to his family.

“To accept my son and his family, whom I had completely rejected, was a bold step for me. They had behaved so disobediently towards me.

“I asked my son and daughter-in-law to come back to our house. I made this request in the second week of Lent. Now, they and their little daughter have agreed to come back and stay with us for Easter Sunday.

“Once they accepted my forgiveness and blessing, I felt a great freedom and a great joy. Honestly, I felt converted.

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