Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
These are the words to the poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley. This poem was kept by Nelson Mandela during his 27-year prison sentence during the period of Apartheid in South Africa. It is also the title of a new movie about the South African rugby team during the 1995 rugby world cup held in South Africa. Everyone should see this movie. It is more than just a movie about rugby. It is a story about the forgiveness and grace of Mandela. It is remarkable how a man who suffered so much at the hands of his oppressors could be so forgiving and full of grace towards them after being elected president. There is a line from the movie that may be real and may not be, but it is very telling. A white security guard is escorting the captain of the rugby team into Mandela's office and remarks that under the previous president he was invisible, simply a force to provide protection. He said that with Mandela no one is invisible. This shows a level of grace that seems to be reflective of Jesus himself.
How many times do we not offer forgiveness to those who have wronged us? Considering what we go through and what some have endured, our pains seem rather pitiful. How many times do we hurl insults at people simply because we don't like their philosophies or the way they live? How much more could we be bringers of peace?
I love the last two lines of the poem:
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul
We can't control what others do; we can only control how we respond. Can we not be more forgiving and full of grace?