I love insights. Along with a few other things on Earth, they make life almost worth living, I find.
I’ve been pondering on this very real reality of mine, this result of having been a mystic all my life and having lived squashed up tight under God’s arm pit that gave me a sense of being very separate in certain ways from the rest of mankind.
It began when I was very young, and it has been my definition all my life.
And so now, God bless God, the tables have turned on me and I am to look, to study, to probe my humanness. Myself as one who interacts with other people.
And I want, to be honest, to just sit here and stammer.
But, but, but. . . .
You get the drift.
This “closing the gap” between myself and others becomes very, very tricky when it comes to forgiveness. Because I realized not that long ago that forgiveness depends on being near. On getting up close and personal, and offering the other person an open hand – if only virtually in our prayers.
So it struck me. Forgiveness, I think, is one of those imponderable ponderables. We can think on it. We can attempt it. We can even achieve it, from time to time. But to understand it, how it works, now there’s a challenge.
And I’ve met that challenge!
Hard to believe. But true.
We separate ourselves from the person who hurts us. Not un-understandably. We have, in any way we can, put ourselves over here and kept whoever-it-is way over there.
And we do this in order to gain our equilibrium. To give us enough breathing space in order to not be overwhelmed even more by whatever-it-was that hurt us.
I’m here. You’re there. And you just stay there, will you?
Keep away from me.
So we come to terms with at least the fact of having been hurt when we are free do so because you’re not here with me, commenting on my realizations, criticizing me for having these feelings, or trying to control any of my decisions that may come out of my thinking-it-over.
So then comes the time when we no longer want to bear all the burden of the incident/s. We want to let go of our anger, the stress that we carry still from it all. We want to restore that part of us that was damaged – a new heart, a clearer mind, a brave soul.
And forgiveness is called for.
And that means closing the gap. Even just emotionally in our prayers to God to help us to forgive the Other. It means putting down our armor that we took such care in constructing over the years.
And, if there’s one thing we don’t want to do, it’s that.
It’s breathing in the awareness that we are capable of taking care of ourselves now, strong enough to endure even the memories of it all.
So, forgiveness, when it’s real, turns out to be a step-by-step process.
I close the gap. First step.
I am willing to come closer. Second step.
I want this wound to heal. Third step.
And so on.
Step by excruciating step. And we need to look at it that way.
Not just as a process of writing or praying forgiveness. Even seventy times seven times. But of experiencing, in real terms, in our awareness, that we are approaching our enemy with open hands.
Incrementally. Slowly. But progressively.
And with nothing in our heart except the desire to forgive.
Seems impossible. But it must be done.
And then there’s the other factor that stops us cold: holding the Other accountable.
Mostly, forgiveness is approached from a he-hurt-ME approach, with the emphasis very much on the ME.
I’m the victim. I’m the one who has to deal with what he did. I’m the one who has had to live all these years with the memory.
But that’s a wrong approach.
To make someone accountable, we have to be able to say just this: You Did This.
With no “to me” attached.
You. You cheated. You lied. You insulted.
You did whatever-it-was-you-did.
With no, absolutely no, reference to ourselves.
Because when we bring ourselves into the incident, then we start to get confused. We really don’t know which end is up.
Did I say something? Should I have been more understanding? More patient?
We become part of the incident.
And the truth is, in order to forgive, we have to remove ourselves from it altogether.
We have the break the connection between us and our Other.
It has to be clean.
Otherwise we won’t feel the fear of getting closer. And if we don’t feel the fear of getting closer, then we won’t know when to rest on our path to closing the gap in order to catch our breath. It will become just another mission. Another task we’ve assigned ourselves.
I’m forgiving him for whatever-it-was.
But forgiveness isn’t something to put on our to-do list.
It’s a grace that we are giving that other person. It is an expression of being God on Earth.
It’s a very, very serious matter.
And only when we can look into our Enemy’s eyes – even if only in our imagination – and say, You Did This.
And stand there.
As Jesus stood before the crowds.
Because, you see, that’s the bottom line. That is the ultimate thing we need to carry with us on this step-by-step process: our innocence.
It’s what Jesus gave to us with his death.
No matter what we were in the incident, no matter what we did in reaction to the incident, no matter how we have felt since then, we are innocent.
If we don’t carry that with us, as Jesus carried it with him on his way to his death, then we don’t have anything real to offer in our forgiveness of the Other.
We can only bring to him our blame and our sense of guilt in the matter.
Here you have this. Take this.
But that’s not forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an act of cleansing the soul. And we can’t be clean if we insist on carrying with us our imagined dirt. Or go into the forgiveness with our obsession with the Other’s dirt.
Our hands must be clean. I am innocent.
Our hearts must be clean. I am strong.
Our souls must be clean. I hold you accountable for your sins.
If we want to show respect to God, then we must do it as he has taught us to do.
With open hands. And with the love that he gives us every day.