Monday, March 20, 2006

Forgiveness: A little goes a long way

Sue Monk Kidd, in her groundbreaking book "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" wrote:

"To forgive does not mean overlooking the offense and pretending it never happened.
Forgiveness means releasing our rage and our need to retalitate, no longer dwelling on the offense, the offender, and the suffering, and rising to a higher love. It is an act of letting go so that we ourselves can go on.

"In the end I knew: There is no healing without forgiveness, no forgiveness without love. Indeed, love is everything.

"...the need to finish and mark the forgiveness with a tangible act [placing a bouquet of flowers on a grave or a person's doorstep]. We can name the places in our lives where such offerings need to be left, places where the wounds have happened, and when we are ready we can mark them with the beauty of our forgiveness. The naming and the marking release us. When we do this, we make our peace."

pp. 189-190 of "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" by Sue Monk Kidd
, 1996.

Someone, somewhere, needs to make peace with someone else, either living or gone from this world. People sometimes think they can "heal" without forgiveness--given or received--but what they don't know is that if they don't follow through after it is given or received, the pain and wounds still remain.

Follow through is like not letting the sun go down on your anger; it is putting down your offering on the way to the Temple and reconciling with your brother, friend, neighbor, stranger, and then picking up your offering and going on your way. Forgiveness without reconciliation is falling short of the mark, the meaning of the Cross, the whole reason Jesus came in the first place. Be reconciled with those whom you believe have hurt you or misunderstood you, and the forgivenss becomes a new beginning and renewal of the spirit within you.