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: Suffering

blog, suffering, transformation, spirituality

“He is my servant…my chosen one…I have sent my spirit upon him… He does not cry out or raise his voice.” Isaiah 42: 1, 2

Suffering can include joy

Yesterday I spent some time with a man in a great deal of pain. He has suffered for a long time, many years. We joked, we laughed, we shared some insights and wisdom; words of love and compassion. A joyous moment.

Suffering is everywhere

Somehow the understanding that God visits suffering upon the sinful never really stuck with me. The image of a loving, merciful God cannot entertain it. The good and the innocent suffer. Nature suffers. Suffering does not seem to be the exclusive prerogative of any particular group or age. It is everywhere and takes many forms.

Reconciling 

So how can we reconcile the notion of a loving, compassionate God allowing so much suffering within his creation?

A means of transformation

Several centuries of thoughtful reflection have brought us to the point of entertaining the idea of a God who is Love. If the base is love and mercy then retributive justice moves aside to restorative justice. Suffering is no long a punishment but a means of transformation.

 

 “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying storyline of human history. … Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, humanity is in major trouble.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, April 6th 2014

God is Love

Perhaps finding a meaning for suffering lies in the new understanding of God. Traditionally we have believed, and still do, in God as a little old man with a white beard living far off in the distance and peering down at his creation while recording a long list of sins in his little black book. This scene no longer works. We do not need another judge. Judges are in plentiful supply. We need love, compassion and mercy. The anger and suffering around us proves it.

If God is Trinity—love and relationship—that creates a very different kind of humanity.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, January 2nd 2017

The circle dance of love

Instead of a little old man, we have a circle dance of love, both giving and receiving, an overflowing that engages all creation. “God is with us” becomes much more intimate. She dances with everyone and everything, in and through all being. God suffers with us. She does not inflict pain but holds it as it transforms herself and her creation into something new and beautiful. Our suffering can give birth to a new heaven and a new earth if we surrender.

God suffers too

Jesus surrendered. He hung on the cross in silence, accusing no one. Instead, as he hung there, he forgave his persecutors. He knew his invitation to dance had been rejected, still he forgave. His suffering made world-wide transformation possible, an example to follow.

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