Saturday, November 27, 2010

The fresh act of forgiveness

It's the tail end of a beautiful Thanksgiving Day even thought the rain has kept its current tempo of taps on the roof since I awoke and the temperature spirals downward. My internal fire has been stoked.

My sister and her family, which is quickly becoming extended with the boyfriends, and my parents met us an hour away at the house they just purchased and are readying to rent. We thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to christen the new place before it's occupied by others. We had to import everything, yet there was a simple charm to having only the basics, mostly including each other.

We moseyed back to our house for dessert and a jam session with all interested picking up an instrument of sorts from the French horn to a plastic accordian, rain stick, xylophone, baby grand, lute, saxaphone and recorder. There was more laughter than music, but I think that had been the point.

The gift, however, for which I am most thankful today is a six-sentence message from someone apologizing for something I never quite understood, but had accepted as just the way things are. It blew me away and at the same time opened the door for me to apologize for something related in which I participated, but never felt good about. No sooner had I sent that reply than I read a friend's blog* on forgiveness with a profound insight:

“Forgiveness is a condition in which the sin of the past is not altered, nor its inevitable consequences change. Rather in forgiveness a fresh act is added to those of the past which restores the broken relationship and opens the way for the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven to meet and communicate deeply with each other in the present and the future.  Thus, forgiveness heals the past, though the scars remain and the consequences go on.”   ~ Douglas Steere (Quaker)

A fresh act. I believe that's what the writer of my message created in her apology: a fresh act. I could never have asked her to apologize; she just did. And in doing so, allowed me to unburden myself of something I never thought I could. This is a person with whom I had desired to get closer, but the wall was rigid and high. Now it seems she has disassembled that barrier.

What if every day, every conflict, slight or ill word prompted a fresh act? The world would be a very different place. Maybe I can attempt my part.

• What are my thoughts on forgiveness?
• What is my experience with forgiveness (as forgiver and forgivee)?
• Has there been a time when it arrived unexpectedly?
• How did that alter the situation? Me?
* How can forgiveness lead to gratitude (thanksgiving)

My heart is large and wide and open.
Pulsating, flowing and oozing
with love, compassion and energy.

Yet, deep down. Way down.
Underneath a lot of stuff.
Lays something dark and hard.
Discarded, forgotten, untended.

On this day of family, food and warmth,
I received a gift from such a far-away place.
Unexpected, unknown and unelicited,
you offered it. Gave me something so
very big that pried the hard space loose,
allowing me to enter it, remember and tend
that wound. Creating a new space for love ...
love for you, myself and others.

It is a true day of Thanksgiving!
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

* My friend Iris's blog link

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