Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lenten Practice and The Forgiveness Project

Lent is coming and I have been thinking about what my Lenten practice will be. I don't like to simply think of what I will "give up." A long time ago I had a spiritual director who urged me to think outside the "give up box." When I returned to church it was a little hard to take that part of Lent seriously... his advice has gone a long way, reframed in the context of true metanoia and transformation.

Today on Facebook, I posted that I might want to consider the unresolved business of my life for Lent. Relationships that are paralyzed - maybe they won't be saved, but they should be resolved. There are things, pretty major ones, that I have just not faced or dealt with head on, that need something. And of course, the secrets. The secrets are bad because they lead directly to lies. God, I hate saying that.

Ruminating on this today has lead me to think about forgiveness. As a culture and a society, we tend to oversimply and complicate forgiveness simultaneously. We either see things as non-negotiable unforgiveables or we do it in a way that does not walk through the valley of reconciliation death. That death walk generally needs to happen.

And forgiveness has as much to do with our ability to forgive ourselves as it does to forgive another.

In any event, I am reminded of some times, few as they are, when real transformational forgiveness happened in my life. I will write about that soon.

In the meantime, I would like to direct your attention to The Forgiveness Project. If you are not familiar with it, I would suggest that you have a look around. It is pretty profound - it is to me at any rate. I link to the page about Bud Welch; his daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing and his story has always moved me.

What do you think about forgiveness?


quzysue said...

Forgiveness is a beautiful idea but dirty, hard work. It is a word that slips almost too easily off our tongues in an effort to keep things as they were, as if to bury the offensive event/remark/action that occurred in the first place. I think it's important to ask ourselves the question of why we truly want to forgive someone. Is it because we want things to go back to the way they used to be? From experience I have learned that you can never go back. The offense has changed the situation forever. But that doesn't mean that the relationship has failed. Forgiveness has been for me an opportunity for growth, self-reflection, and God's grace present to the world. It's a long, hard, painful path but if you're willing to give it a try the results are amazing.

St Edwards Blog said...

Thank you for your comment.

Forgiveness is challenging and multi-faceted... not easy. Nor should it be.
It is all part of a journey, and all the steps are necessary.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I believe that there is one step beyond forgiveness in order for forgiveness to be complete, and it is very difficult: love. It is very difficult to love those who have hurt you, but if forgiveness is to be complete, love must be part of the equation (in my experience).

St Edwards Blog said...

Elizabeth - welcome to the blog; it is a gift and honor to have you here.

Your words are very wise and you bring forth the importance of love.

It is a challenge to think of love in the fullest sense of the word. Yet that is what is called for, love in the spirit of agape, of action and decision and not just of feeling and emotion.

Thank you for introducing this to the thread.


Anonymous said...

Forgivness is gut-wrenching to say the least. By forgiving, one absolutely must think of the person we are forgiving and not ourself. By doing so we forget how we feel.....the scenario going over and over till we're crazy with why did this person do this to me?
Forgetting myself is perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done but it works and the hate disappeared miraculously. The issue was over and done with and total peace entered. (Maybe not right away but eventually.)
The stories of Bud Welch and others do bring one to tears.
Thank you Fran.

Margaret Bryant said...

Forgiveness---perhaps, for me the most Godly virtue.

Not an easy one, for us Irish Catholics.

Really a good consideration as one ages.

One realizes that all the grudges that we nurse will die with us.

God will not care for them when we go home to Him.
Margaret Bryant