Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." --Gandhi

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." --Mark Twain

"Forgiving is love's toughest work, and love's biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love's power to break nature's rule."~Lewis B. Smedes

Nearly 6 years ago, I made a commitment to a daily spiritual practice which I hoped would change my life. It has; it has freed me from so much, and has given me a life which I never thought possible. Some days, my practice of the path has been sparser than others, but there is always a seed planted, a prayer said, whether in front of an altar, on bended knee, while jogging down a creek, while agonizing over a relationship, or while driving hastily to work. The prayer always fundamentally asks God to guide my every move and to help me be more helpful in the world.

I did not commit to this way of life because I wanted to be good, though I suppose I always had designs for goodness. I committed to this way of life because I was quite literally dying, and I was told by others who had survived the disease I had, that these were the things I would have to practice in order to survive.

It's always been clear to me that any negative ranting, whether in my head or out loud, is not helpful for others or the planet. But, as my aim is, admittedly, and perhaps selfishly, personal survival, I cannot afford to harbor resentment. It has the power to kill me. So lately, since falling into a spell of resentment towards X-man, I've had to pray harder and more heartily. It's a matter of life and death for me. I'm not supposed to pray for selfish things, but I believe letting go of resentment makes me more present for those around me, so I pray daily to be alleviated from my resentment, and I've added the St. Francis Prayer to my morning routine, which, line by line, asks us to sacrifice being right for being with God, asks us to sacrifice ego for truth and forgiveness.

So, this morning, I said my prayers, rattling some familiar words off without thinking too much about them, and pressing some words out of my mouth as if I was begging God for relief, praying to near tears as I ran down Bear Creek on my morning jog. Then, I switched Pandora on and when Jack Johnson's "Better Together" came on, I felt my heart burst open--not because I suddenly fell in love with X-man or someone else, but because of the music, the melody, and the playful upbeat nature of the song. These got into my body and popped me out of my gloom.

I'm sure the fervent prayers allowed me room for this opening. I felt near joy, something that's felt a bit distant lately--as if I allow myself joy, I'll forget that my heart was broken and it will happen--all of a sudden, again, and I'll be made a fool. But I rather risk being a fool again and again than live with that dark corroding thread that was sewing through my insides.

By the end of the day, I found myself earnestly wishing X-man well. I didn't phone him or anything, but I felt that I wanted whatever was best for him to come his way. Part of my prayer practice when I'm harboring resentment is to pray that whatever I want for myself is granted to the person I'm resentful at. I can't believe how good it feels to be wishing him well. This is the kind of love I've been after when I say the second line of the St. Francis prayer, "Where there is hatred, let me sow love." This is a garden beyond my imagination--the most beautiful harvest is on the horizon.

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