Forgiving

Friday 04 March

I wrote this a few years ago and posted it on my old blog. I bring it to this year, as it still lives for me:

Interesting time at Faith2Day at St Columba's today. We were talking of forgiveness, and if a person has to say sorry before they are forgiven. We concluded that there are two parts to forgiveness. One is the forgiver, the other is the one to be forgiven.

To forgive is liberating for the forgiver. To forgive is to let go of painful memory. To put down the burden of always (always) remembering that which was recieved (words, physical contact, or any other kind of personal diminishment) at the whim of another is stupendously liberating. I don't have to keep remembering what I want another to say sorry for.

For the one forgiven, the forgiver truly needs to hear what the forgiven needs to be forgiven for. An "I'm sorry" could cover anything and could be a cover for any real truth. I recall someone telling me about conversations at the near death of another, who asked to be forgiven. The relative said, "tell me what you are sorry for, and I will forgive." The one near death had no words - as the whole of that life was hiding truth. The one near death could not list what needed to be forgiven - to do so would be to acknowledge all s/he had done which caused pain to one other, let alone many others. Even so close to death, this person could not name truth.

Real forgiveness rises out of real truth. One just cannot be without the other. Though I rid myself of the burden of memory by 'forgiving' my perpetrators, it wasn't really forgiveness, as the 'forgiven' never knew. It was me laying down the need for my truth to be named and apologised for by another, which I called forgiveness. Yes it was liberating.

But forgiveness is, to me, a mutual exercise.

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