Like the practice of compassion, forgiveness does not ignore the truth of our suffering. Forgiveness is not weak. It demands courage and integrity. Yet only forgiveness and love can bring about the peace we long for. As the Indian sage Meher Baba explains, “True love is not for the faint-hearted.” With forgiveness we become unwilling to wish harm to another. Whenever we forgive, in small ways at home, or in great ways between nations, we free ourselves from the past. The practice of forgiveness grows through generosity and repetition. That experience encouraged me, but when I turned to my father, the process was much more difficult. Forgiveness took many years. It was only when he lay dying that I could look back and reflect on what had released me from our family suffering.
Practicing forgiveness was like learning to stand and walk and feel good about myself. Then I was able to go home, to see my family, even my father, without hurting so much. Seven years later when my father got sick, it wasn’t hard to go back. I saw his slow decline until finally he was a weak old man on his bed. I knew that I loved him. I had forgiven us all.” With virtue and forgiveness we repair the world.
when we pause on the eve of this birthday…..how do we listen? how do we forgive?
inquiry for today~ may your heart simply settle into holy peace……not for the sentimental remembrances, but for the hard and brittle spaces……let it be…..let it be a holy night…..
Holiness is not in Bethlehem, nor Jerusalem, nor the largest, most glittering, mall, unless we are there in good company, with a friend, with a loved one, with our affections, with our best and most generous thoughts, most of all with a deep form of inhabited silence, a natural, grounded, central conversation with what and how and to whom we like to give. Holiness is coming to ground in the essence of our giving and receiving, a mirror in which we can see both our virtues and our difficulties, but also, a doorway to the life we want beyond this particular form of exchange.
Holiness is beautiful beckoning uncertainty: time celebrated and time already gone so quickly. Holiness dissolves the prison of time but lies only one short step from the present busy moment: one look into the starry darkness of the mid-winter sky at the midnight hour, one glance at a son or a daughter’s face; one sight of a distressed friend alone in the midst of a crowded celebration.
Holiness is a step taken not to the left or to the right, but to the heart of present besieging outer circumstances, to the core of the pattern we inhabit at the very centre of the celebration. Holiness is reached not through effort or will, but by stopping; by an inward coming to rest; a place from which we can embody the mid winter spirit of our days, a radical, inhabited simplicity, where we live in a kind of on going surprise and with some wonder and appreciation, flawed and far from perfection, but inhabiting the still center of a beautiful, peripheral giftedness.