Early April brings carpets of wild violets scattered through fields and dotting lawns with royal purple, my favorite color. As I walk my dog through the grass, we can’t help but step on the beautiful blooms, no matter how we try to avoid them. (Well, I try not to step on them – my dog doesn’t care!) I’m reminded of the quote from Mark Twain:

                      “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.”                          

The forgiving violets are quite timely for me this week as I learned of a small pony who was confiscated by an animal shelter after witnesses called the police to report abuse. The pony was owned by an Amishman who used him to pull his buggy.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Not so fast.  The pony was malnourished, weighing only about 4oo pounds, yet he was whipped to pull the buggy weighing at least 500 pounds, a load made for a horse no smaller than 800 pounds.  The Amishman was spotted at a shopping center 8 miles from his home – yes, the poor pony had pulled the burden that far, up and down many steep hills.  The police were called when witnesses saw the Amishman whipping the pony to get up.  The pony had finally had enough and refused to move.  Suffering also from dehydration because he had been deprived of water during his long journey, the pony had no more to give despite the whippings he endured.

From my work with dogs rescued from Amish puppy mills, I already have a stilted view of the Amish.  The way they mistreat animals tarnishes their holy, pristine image.  But their redeeming virtue is their guiding principle of forgiveness.  Last week, I watched a TV movie called Amish Grace, the story of the mother of one of the 5 girls killed at a schoolhouse in Lancaster County a couple of years ago.  The show focused on her struggle to live up to the ability to forgive the shooter’s wife.   Forgiveness does not come easy, especially when you have the burden of grief to carry forever.

Do I have the fragrant violet’s ablity to forgive the Amish for not sharing my love and respect for animals?  That’s the burden I carry whenever I see the abuse inflicted on the creatures I love so dearly.