Kidd, Brueggmann: Forgiveness

Kidd, Brueggmann: Forgiveness

“People, in general, would rather die than forgive. It's that hard.”
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees, Penguin 2003.

Prison Robben Island South Africa where Mandela lived for 17 of 28 years in prison

Prison Robben Island South Africa where Mandela lived for 17 of 28 years in prison

For myself, if someone has harmed me, I begin to think about them all the time and what I would like to do to them, expose them. They live rent free in my head and in essence become my higher power, my God. I do not want this person to be my God, my higher power. That is what brings me back to start the work of forgiveness. Yes, for me it is extremely hard work. Forgiveness is not forgetting. There are things we should never forget, the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, slavery, abuse, 9/ 11, Hurricanes Camille, Frederic, Ivan, Katrina, and now Harvey and Irma and Michael.

Walter Brueggmann1 writes about forgiveness especially from what we learn in the Old Testament. He writes that forgiveness is made impossible in a system of deeds-consequence when deeds have an unbreakable tight predictable connection to consequences with no way out. This is the law, and if you break it, this is what will happen to you. Amen. This is the basis of much religious preaching of “hell, fire, and damnation,” trying to frighten people into a moral life. Brueggmann believes that forgiveness is only possible when we realize the astonishing readiness of God to reach beyond deeds-consequences, to offer continually to us unlimited restoration and extravagant forgiveness.

There is nothing, nothing that we can do for which God does not forgive us, and we are called to do the same. When we begin to lead a life of pardoning and newness, we start to see the world not through our grievances but through gratitude. It is a new life, a different life. We saw it in Nelson Mandela who forgives his guards of his 27 years of imprisonment as he walks out of prison. He tells others who are harboring resentments and grievances, “if I do not forgive them, I am still in prison.” Buddhists call it the Great Compassion.

1Walter Brueggemann, “The Impossible Possibility of Forgiveness,” Journal of Preachers, Pentecost 2015, pp. 8-17.

Joanna. Joannaseibert.com

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Purchase a copy of A Daily Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter in Little Rock from me joannaseibert@me.com or from Wordsworth Books or from the publisher Earth Songs Press or on Amazon. Proceeds from the book go for hurricane relief in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast.

Mary Dwyer: Forgiveness

Mary Dwyer: Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is not forgetting, not condoning not a form of absolution, not a pretense, not a once and for all decision, and not a sign of weakness but of strength.” Mary Dwyer, One Day Retreat of Contemplative Outreach, Learning to Forgive, February 10, 2018, St. Mark’s.

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Last year at a Forgiveness Workshop with Mary Dwyer from Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., at St. Mark’s we learn some basics to start the journey of forgiveness. She reminds us that forgiveness is the only conditional part of the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive our sins, as we forgive others.”

Reconciliation involves both parties. Forgiveness involves only one party.

Mary cautioned us about forgiving too soon.

She used the process from Fr. William A. Meninger’s book, The Process of Forgiveness. The first stage of beginning to forgive involves claiming the hurt, often by writing about it. Telling our story also is a big part in Bishop Tutu’s book, The Book of Forgiving. In the second stage toward healing we feel guilt that maybe we did something wrong for this to happen. Here we are healed by comforting our inner child. In the third stage we see ourselves as the victim. Mary gave examples of how so many people get stuck in this stage. Their whole life is centered around some hurt many years ago. Support groups help in this stage as we see we are not the only ones who have been harmed. In the fourth stage we become very anger about the hurt. Anger brings with it a huge amount of energy and clarity. If we can transform that energy, we can then start healing as we release this energy and become whole again. What helps me the most is the knowledge that the person who has harmed me is still hurting me as long I cannot forgive them.

Mary then described a process of active imagination with God and the person who has harmed us called the Forgiveness Prayer. After a period of Centering Prayer, we imagine our own sacred space with God very close to us. She imagines she is sitting in God’s lap.My sacred space would be sitting on the white sandy beach by the ocean watching the waves come gently in as the sea gulls fly in and out at the water’s edge. We then invite someone who has harmed us to come into our space. We tell them all that they have done to harm us. Then we ask them if we have harmed them and then ask them for forgiveness. Sometimes having a picture of the person who harmed us may be helpful as we speak to him or her. This is not a one-time event but may require many encounters. For me, the Forgiveness Prayer is so helpful when the person who harmed me refuses to talk about it. The Prayer allows us to talk to that person in a safe place where we cannot be harmed again, but also to acknowledge mistakes we made as well.

Mary also recommends praying daily for the person who has harmed us until we are ready to forgive.

Joanna. Joannaseibert.com

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Purchase a copy of A Daily Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter in Little Rock from me joannaseibert@me.com or from Wordsworth Books or from the publisher Earth Songs Press or on Amazon. Proceeds from the book go for hurricane relief in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast.

Surrender

Surrender

“The boat I travel in is called Surrender. My two oars are instant forgiveness and gratitude—complete gratitude for the gift of life. I am thankful for the experience of this life, for the opportunity to dance. I get angry, I get mad, but as soon as I remind myself to put my oars in the water, I forgive.” Balbir Matbur, Heron Dance interview (Issue 11), inwardoutward.org, Daily Quote, October 19, 2016.

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Balbir Matbur as president of Trees for Life for 30 years planted 200 million morning trees in developing countries. I thank the daily words from Inward Outward from the Church of the Saviour in Washington for introducing him to me. Matbur’s exceptional life is a story of constant surrender: immigrating to Wichita from India with no family contacts, mowing lawns, becoming world known in business, developing a mysterious illness, leaving his business career, and starting an international nonprofit to plant trees in developing countries. The morning trees survive in dry conditions, its leaves are nutritious in vitamins A and C and calcium, and its seeds are used to purify water.

Matbur’s words are indeed words of peace that I hear in so many disciplines across all religious barriers. When I can forgive, when I am filled with gratitude, I stay out of trouble and find peace. What an image. We are in a boat called surrender and our two oars are gratitude and forgiveness that keep that boat moving on course. I can imagine rowing on a river, not too big of a river and not too big of a boat. I will need some other passengers with me who can take over the oars when I become too tired, who will read to me and let me rest or just allow me to soak in the scenery.

Rick Plumee, The Wichita Eagle, May 10, 2014.

Joanna. Joannaseibert.com

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Purchase a copy of A Daily Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter in Little Rock from me joannaseibert@me.com or from Wordsworth Books or from the publisher Earth Songs Press or on Amazon. Proceeds from the book go for hurricane relief in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast.