Prologue: The temper of the times, nationally and globally, politically and personally, is wroth. Division and anger reign. I do not stand apart, casting my judging eye on all ‘round about me. For I, as opinionated and, I confess, as grudge-bearing as (and, depending on the subject, perhaps more than) the next person, bear in my body, my belly the prevailing tensions of these days. As a Christian, I am called to contemplate that cardinal, necessary act, indeed, art of all human relating: Forgiveness.
I can forgive, yet I cannot forget. Perhaps, then, the best I can hope to do, applying practically Jesus’ call, “to take up my cross,” is to bear the weight of my woundedness and, thus, not unload it (in the misspent energy of my misdirected anger) on others to carry.
That said, there is something else, something more I have learned. I do not believe it is possible for me to be cured; that is, with all marks and manifestations of my woundedness erased as if my being hurt never happened. However, it is possible for me to heal; that is, to acknowledge with honest grace and to bear with humble dignity the injuries and scars of the…my human condition.
One path to healing, coming full circle, is forgiveness.
Manifold are the ways to define forgiveness. But first, a renewed realization.
Apart from all theological and ethical suppositions about the higher calling of selflessness (to which, yes, I aspire), considering my existential being, I acknowledge afresh that human life, my human life, as I have experienced it, never is devoid wholly of the (my) self. Hence, in my lexicon, forgiveness, in no small part, is a great act of enlightened self-interest. Verily, a grand art of self-love. To forgive is to give-for (to do something for) another for the sake of myself, indeed, my self.
To remove the Damoclean sword (not, according to the legend, of the peril of power, but rather of my quite contemporary self-claimed right) of retribution o’er the head of one who has offended me. All for the sake of liberating me from that life-stunting habit of rehearsing and reciting the record of past offenses done unto me.
To raze that tall wall of mistrust that I erect between myself and those who have offended me. All for the sake of opening myself to the possibility of restitution, even reconciliation.
To rend that opaque veil of indignation that blinds me to an offender’s whole humanity; the hard for me to recall good as well as the easy for me to remember not so good. All for the sake of clearing, cleansing my vision so to behold others to be as I am, that is, as complexly inscrutable human mysteries.