FORGIVENESS: Lent 2016 — Turn Around

My Writing

facing jesus

Where to begin?

I think of people lost on the moors.  Lost in swamps.  Lost in endless stretches of forest.  Or desert.

Direction becoming a matter of wishful thinking.  Of good intentions.  Of wondering where it will all end.

So this particular beginning begins with Lent.

The usual organizational push.  What to do.  How to structure it.

Pieces.  Like a child sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Building.

One at a time. Watching for an imbalance that will bring it down.

Only to be pieced together again.


Stillness. But with a different hush than the one that belongs to Advent.

Instead of the glow of ahead-ness, there is the slow choking, the tightening of the heart and mind and soul and body.

It Is Coming.

That which we don’t want to come.

The facing.

Of us. Our us-ness. Our capability to commit horror on another.

And laugh about it. Knock back a stiff drink and slap each other on the back.

He’s gone now.

He’s dead.

All of his bother, finished.

For once and for all.

I designed a forgiveness exercise for this Lent.

A journal. Each day an act of forgiveness for someone on my list.

I forgive you for….

Except as I worked on the idea – I brought into the concept an art journal, expressing myself with pastels and colored pencils and whatall – I turned it around. I won’t focus on what I forgive you for. Instead I will do a drawing of something for which I am grateful to you.

Gratitude. An imagined counterbalance to blame and wailing.

But, as it turns out, it is not an experience of planting a beautiful flower garden where once there was only gravel and dust.

It is a standing behind an unruly mule with an offer of peace, a morsel of food, and– being at the wrong end– receiving a kick as the connection with the beast.

There now, you lie on the ground as I turn around and eat that sad bit of a meal you brought me.

Forgiveness is a process that has a mind of its own.

And is not easily fooled or tamed.

So, I am reading words of Francis and Clare this season.

A nice, tidy little book.  The words meted out delicately, some for each day.

Followed by some scripture.  A prayer.  And a suggestion of something to do.

The first day, the day of Ash Wednesday, the suggestion of something to do was to pray to Jesus Christ.  Ask him what he wills for me this Lent.  And write down three ways that I might become a more faithful follower of him.  I am to keep the list and refer back to it through Lent.

So I prayed.  I asked.  I heard the answer.  I made a list.

  1. To create a relationship with him on Earth
  2. To forgive
  3. To talk with him

One: My mind immediately tried to feel out what “on Earth” meant.  And I thought of everyday-ness.  Have a relationship with Jesus while I put away the clothes.  Clean the cat-litter box.  Work out page designs for my website.

TwoForgive?  Isn’t that what I am working on?

ThreeTalking to Jesus.  With Jesus.  A snake of discomfort, near nausea, crept slowly up my body.  Enwrapping me.  Curling around my insides and tightening.

This was not a reaction that I would ever imagine me having to such a simple command.  I have in recent months even purchased a small icon of Jesus that is on my prayer table that faces the chair that I use for my prayers.  I purchased it for that reason alone.  I thought.

Mostly I use it when I read from my Book of Prayers – the book in which I keep monthly novenas and the collected prayer requests that I pick up here and there.  The final push of intercessory prayers at the end of my day.  After compline.  Before the examen.

I pray those prayers to the icon of Jesus that sits near a flickering candle.

Perhaps that doesn’t count as talking.

So I tried talking to Jesus.  Right then and there.

In spite of the scream of, No! gripping me.

Why the resistance?

Because you never forgive yourself.

And all my unforgiveness of myself creates a veil of shame around me when I face Jesus.

With God, the Father, I can yell and defend myself, and surrender to his teachings otherwise.  And understand.  And see myself as what I am.  His.

But with Jesus, with God, the Son, all my missteps, my bull-headedness, my insistence of finding out things my own way, it all looks like dirt to me.

And in the light of his purity and his innocence, it looks blacker than anything else I can think of.

To his grace, I am a broken, hunch-backed creature crawling in the shadows of life.

What would I do were I to come across him and there were others asking for his healing touch?

I would slip to the back and think, They deserve his healing.  They deserve his love.

They deserve to go first.

I can never imagine myself as being at the head of the line.  The one who is next.

Almost there.

With relationship to Jesus, I am always the end.

Where to begin?

I think of people lost on the moors.  Lost in swamps.  Lost in endless stretches of forest.  Or desert.

Direction becoming a matter of wishful thinking.  Of good intentions.  Of wondering where it will all end.

So this beginning begins with forgiveness.

Forgiveness of you.

Forgiveness of me.

Two very different paths.

The first has color and motion.  And surprises in what I see at the end of the exercise.

The second means that I turn around.  And I sit quietly.  And I try to talk with Jesus.

Perhaps both involve tears.

It’s a beginning.


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