I have been mulling over forgiveness for a good while now.
I'm not very good at it.
I mean, I'm really not.
Nancy recently found an article on Christian and Jewish experience of forgiveness to be a reaffirming of her Christianity, here:
And, in the process of researching further, I found this article:
I have never in any way identified as a Jew, but the jewish viewpoint resonated with me here. The idea that repentance is important. That forgiveness isn't somehow "owed" to anyone who asks for it.
(edit 3/2/06 This is perhaps the part I was focusing on: "However, almost all agree that repentance requires five elements: recognition of one's sins as sins (hakarát ha-chét'), remorse (charatá), desisting from sin (azivát ha-chét'), restitution where possible (peira'ón), and confession (vidúi). ")
I have purchased a copy of the Sunflower recently, but haven't read beyond the introduction (aside - don't buy it at Amazon.com, even though I linked there, it's great for looking up books, but see quakerbooks, or my sidebar to order it - see my last post!)
It's about a person in a concentration camp being asked to forgive a dying nazi officer (and then, I assume, go back to life in the camp), and they couldn't. It's essays by various people about what they would have done. What I find shocking is that apparently some people seriously take issue with the fact that he couldnt' forgive. I mean, are people SERIOUS???????
I can say pretty confidently that I wouldn't. I can say less confidently that that doesnt' worry me too much. I can't believe that hasn't been through something that horrific can honestly say that they would, but maybe I am too laacking in faith in others.
I can see that in a saintly world, that might be the ideal. That if I was a fully evolved being of light I could forgive people as they drove stakes through my hands on a trumped up charge (reference, anyone?)
But I don't know, maybe I'm spiritually dense, but I'm much more interested in working on the folks who are driving the stakes than whether or not the persecuted can forgive.
I was talking to a f/Friend about forgiving our ex girlfriends (!) this week. I have one who treated me pretty badly and then was offended that I "wouldn't" (I would say "couldn't" - it doesn't feel like a decision exactly, but more like a state of grace, that I wasnt' in) forgive her.
I was reminded by a woman I know (though I haven't seen her in years) who I often do think of as a "fully evolved being of the light" (to use consistent terminology). She was telling me once about her feelings about her ex husband, father of her children. I dont' remember the specifics, but he had been very bad for her, and still wasn't very present to her kids.
She talked with great joy about how much God loves this man. How she doesn't think he will go to hell, how God will embrace him and forgive him..... and I remarked on how impressed I was by her forgiveness and she said something like "oh, no! I hate the bastard!"
And ever since, I guess that's been the sort of forgiveness I can aim for.
I believe that we are all children of God. Loved in a way by God (/Life / Spirit / Love) in a way that none of us in our limited human forms can fully fathom.
I can take great joy in that Love - for me, for George Bush, for Hitler, for my ex girlfriend :)
(though I say that I still hope there is a "hell" that consists of true empathy and understanding - how could true knowing not be hell for Hitler? - but like the scouring out of a wound that will heal, not eternal torture)
and at the same time, I can let myself off the hook for not being able to conjure that love for people who have hurt me to the core, and especially not for those who are still hurting me!