One: Volcano

volcano, relationship, forgiveness, fallout
Forgiveness prevents eruptions

A volcano erupted last Friday. It was not in the news. No one noticed in my neighbourhood. In fact, only the small group of people in my living room knew about it. Nevertheless, the repercussions are widespread and destructive. Betrayal is the root.

Building a solid foundation

Over the years my husband and I have built a solid foundation in relationship. Based on forgiveness and trust we enjoy a vibrant, challenging repartee, especially when we do not agree. This dynamic is only possible knowing we can count on each other. We do not lie to each other.

Mistakes

However, mistakes abound in any human endeavour. All people have weaknesses and foibles. If we do not leave room to forgive, if we hang onto our hurts and wounds, we build a volcano and relationship becomes a wasteland. Forgiveness is key. Recommitment to truth opens the way to move forward.

Praying for resolution

The lava is still flowing and the hurt deepens. Although an apology was forthcoming and accepted, the necessary forgiveness and recommitment remained absent. As we move closer to Christmas and the usual family gatherings, I pray for resolution and reconciliation. Having hung onto my own hurts and wounds for many years I know where this may lead. I also know the joy of healing and renewal forgiveness provides.

Holding the tension

In my corner, some of the fallout includes a desert void of energy and inspiration. As I hold the tension between the two, I find I cannot concentrate on baking or writing letters. Attending parties and get togethers take on the trappings of a trial rather than a pleasure. I wait for the opportunity to remind the protagonists to consider forgiveness and recommitment. My own commitment is to point out the destruction righteousness causes. We may be perfectly justified in our thoughts and actions, but do we really want the results?

“Only mutual apology, healing, and forgiveness offer a sustainable future for humanity.” Richard Rohr Daily Meditations” June 12, 2018

My volcano may cool

December seems to inspire eruptions. Some of the most hurtful memories reside at this time when joy should be the norm. Our volcano still spouts hot coals. Perhaps it will have time to cool before the test arrives. In the meantime, I wait, holding the tension and praying.

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One: Pathways

Pathways, blog, choice, forgiveness, gratitude, letting go
Where am I going?

Restlessly we seek that which might satisfy our hunger. Many pathways lead upward yet we cannot see the whole distance. Beyond the top of the hill or around the corner remains a mystery.

Imperfect pathways

Some pathways are safer than others. Occasionally they are blocked. Every path can, however, by dangerous. Earthquakes or falling rocks can destroy perfectly good highways. Despite the disruption we wish to continue.  We may find a plank to place across the gap. Having travelled a little way, we discover our plank is sagging and wobbly. Many turn back. Some move forward. A few have enemies who push the would-be bridge into the chasm. We fall.

Falling

All of us fall at some point, losing our footing and our way. At the bottom, once we have regained our equilibrium and our eyes have adjusted to the dark, we might spy a crooked, narrow path leading up or another leading down. The downward path leads into deeper gloom and some require the intense darkness to see the light. Others begin the climb again. Still others remain where they are waiting for someone else to carry them. A few need carrying for everything is broken. Only gentle kindness can heal the wounds. Healing allows another attempt to climb the crooked path. And the path is narrow, crooked and steep.

Forgiveness

The pathways of love invite us to forgive those who have pushed us into the chasm. Love demands we help those who are too broken to move. She also insists on letting go of hurts, taking responsibility for our own lives and choosing anew. Sometimes Love requires we move away from those we love to give them enough space to find themselves. For indeed, the darkness teaches lessons we need to learn. One such lesson reveals the fruit of blaming others. Only by letting go of blame can we be open enough to receive and embrace what pain has to teach. Then can we be thankful for both the good times and the bad. Certainly, both pathways lead to good eventually.

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One: Love

Love, blog, forgiveness, choice, vulnerability

“…there is an inner code, a certain DNA, within love itself. It too has inner secrets, an inner structure, and a code that needs to be cracked if we are to properly understand its dynamics… Jesus gave us the keys to crack it…. vulnerability, the refusal out of love to protect ourselves, self-sacrifice, putting others before ourselves, refusing to give back in kind when someone hurts us, a willingness to die for others, the refusal to give ourselves over to cynicism and bitterness when things beset us, continued trust in God and goodness even when things look the opposite, and especially forgiveness, having our hearts remain warm and hospitable, even when we have just cause for hatred.” Ron Rolheiser, The Jesus Code (emphasis mine)

Love can exceed our capacity

Love is not easy. It has little to do with warm fuzzy feelings. Deciding to love someone in spite of all obstacles can exceed what is humanly possible. We need help.

Trust

One of the keys to making love possible is a nurtured connection to Love itself. Jesus continued to trust in God and goodness because he spent time in prayer, listening to his Father. Just as we spend time with family and friends in order to build relationship, the connection to the Creator comes with time spent in communion.

Relationship

Building relationship can take many forms. Many speak of the need for contemplation and meditation in our world of mayhem. These tools can look differently to different people. The shape they take conforms to the circumstances of each person. Sitting in a quiet, darkened room with a candle may not be for everyone.

Unfamiliar

In our urbanised society, cement is more familiar than earth, Streetlights block the view of the Milky Way. Running water comes from a tap rather than a stream. Pulling someone out of the sterilised environment of concrete and steel to plop them in a wilderness may not have the effect of connection with anything but germs. Panic may set in instead of peace.

Gratitude

So, begin with something familiar. Babies are often gateways into the truest part of us. When beauty catches our eye, stop. Allow love to surface. Be grateful. This is the beginning of vulnerability, so essential to love.

Choice

Eventually, with the practice of a lifetime, we may even learn to love our enemies and forgive those who have hurt us. With the gift of free-will we all have the power to choose. We can be grateful or wanting, forgiving or vengeful, vulnerable or fearful, generous or miserly. We choose heaven or hell, here and now. Let us choose to love today.

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One: Other

other, war, reconciliation, forgiveness

During a workshop this weekend my husband and I watched a film produced by Adyan, an agency in Lebanon promoting peace. Its topic concerned the alienation of the Other. As long as we can consider our enemy as separate and different we can kill with impunity.

The Other

The theme continued in our choice of what we thought would be an amusing relaxation. We chose a Hollywood production about an extra-terrestrial invasion. The enemy soon carried the title of the “Others”. Very appropriate. It justified the violence perpetrated by one against the other.

Separation is illusion

Separation is an illusion. The lie permits us all kinds of atrocities. Our society insists on independence therefore fostering isolation. Isolation creates strangers and strangers are other, a growing number of lonely people.

Reconciliation

The two men in the Adyan film, one Christian and the other Muslim, believed they worshipped separate gods. Each having “God on their side”, they proceeded to destroy vast numbers of their countrymen as they led their individual militia in a bloody civil war aiming to make their home a better place in which to live. Following a failed peace treaty each was forced to take up residence in the others’ neighbourhood and a change of heart began to take form. The two became fast friends wondering how they could have easily killed each other a few years before.

God is one

The transformation took place as a result of an act of love. Having joined group fostering reconciliation one of the leaders eventually wrote a letter published in a local paper where he admitted his culpability and asked for forgiveness. The human heart is slow to believe, to forgive, to yield. The process takes years. Through those many years the two men discovered their God is one.

Formed in love

Our universe is founded on love. This foundation requires love as the only effective method for establishing lasting peace. Consequently love is what will heal our population and our planet. As for extra-terrestrials, should they exist, God used the same foundation. Other is only different and an invitation to discover new ideas, new ways to worship, new forms of love. All is well and all will be well. Life is good. 

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One: Forgiveness

 “Without forgiveness nothing new happens, and we remain frozen in a small past.”Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 27 August 2017.

Making a difference

Forgiveness makes all the difference in the world. Without forgiveness, I would not be an artist; I would not be a writer. Instead, I would be locked away in my tiny world of fear.

God has a sense of humour

Organized religion had no place in my life. I had seen enough to know it was all a sham. Keeping self-righteous people in places of power seemed its purpose. Fortunately, God has a sense of humour.

I am not alone

First, she introduced me to a cradle Catholic who would eventually become my husband. Then she demonstrated what form the Holy Spirit might take in an active, alive parish where the laity worked together to create community. However, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as confession is now known, offered only surface preparation for real forgiveness. At the same time, the Eucharist assured me I was not alone.

Rage

Through burnout, effective therapy provided by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation proposed a different path. I had been carrying the dark mass of rage for far too long. I began to forgive others.

Lessons of love

True to her lessons of love, God placed us in a remote village, isolated in a culture I embraced yet did not understand with four small children. I had no idea I needed to forgive myself. Gently Christ reminded me: I am not alone.

Therapy and forgiveness

Eventually I surrendered to the notion I may need more intensive therapy. And so, the slow process of recovery and self-discovery began. I shall be forever grateful for the talented people who led me to the discovery: I did not need fixing. All I needed was forgiveness and love.

Not a one time event

In the beginning, I thought forgiving someone was a one-time event. I soon found myself at the same point, time and again, of requiring me to forgive the same person for yet another offense. I began to see my need to forgive myself.

Forgiveness heals

Forgiveness comes more easily these days. A sojourn into the past still takes place every once in while where I can quickly name and let go the hurt. I am gentler with me, forgiving my blunders and laughing at notions of perfection. Forgiveness heals the past and the present. It offers the freedom to be, warts and all. Life is so good.

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