Walter Wangerin’s charming fable The Book of the Dun Cow is set in a chicken coop. One of my favorite scenes has the rooster Chauntecleer try to figure-out who has been stealing and eating the hen’s eggs. His prime suspect is John the Weasel, who has a long track record of such nefarious behavior. Chauntecleer charges him: “I know what you have done in the past, John . . . I know what you are capable of doing.” John the Weasel answers: “Past is past. Past is not present. Did is not do. Was is not is” [Walter Wangerin, Jr., The Book of the Dun Cow. New York: Harper & Row, 1978, p. 19]. While it’s not wise to trust a weasel with a track record, John’s words are profoundly true: Past is past. Past is not present. Did is not do. Was is not is.
There is always a future on the other side of failure, forgiveness which is stronger than guilt, a new beginning amid the ruins, and a home for those who, for a while, have lost track of what or where home is. Grace means that “Past is past. Past is not present. Did is not do. Was is not is.”