A Lesson Learned and Re-Lived

Subtitle: Of forgiveness…

Some years ago, I wrestled with bitterness concerning (mis)treatment I had received from someone no longer in this world. My therapist recommended that I write a letter to that person to be read at gravesite.

Long, I wrestled [1] with her request. First, concerning the sense of it. And then, having reconciled myself to its merit as an exercise of self-validation, whether I would do it.

Finally, I wrote the letter. And, finally, I ventured to the cemetery and read my letter.

Today, rummaging through a cache of papers, I found the letter:

N., I believe that as I am forgiven by God, so I am called by God to forgive. This has been and continues to be a hard thing for me. For on some days and at some moments during each day, I do not desire to forgive you. The pain you inflicted, the harm you have done to me is great and long-lived. Nevertheless, in accord with what I believe about God and about the person I have become and the person I am becoming, I continue to strive to forgive you. In a miraculous way, to forgive you is an expression of loving myself. Therefore, I pray your peace, Paul

Today, I remember. Everything. My anguish and anger. My therapist’s care and counsel. Writing and reading the letter. And, thank God, the forgiveness.

© 2022 PRA


[1] Inner wrestling is my lifelong calling, if not by choice, then, surely, by commitment and practice.

2 thoughts on “A Lesson Learned and Re-Lived

  1. Paul,
    Love this!! Glad you accomplished that task!! Remember that class we did when I read that letter to my sister out loud and the entire class was crying?? When I went on the retreat with the black daughter caregivers we did an exercise where at the end of the retreat we threw in a bonfire all the things we needed to leave behind / forgive before we left that was powerful too!!

    Glad you can put that behind you now. Proud of you!


  2. Do I remember our “Forgiveness Class”? How would or could I forget it! (Of all the classes in which I participated — in any way, shape, or form in my nearly 17 years at St. Mark’s, our “Forgiveness Class” is at the zenith of my appreciation.) If I may say (and I will!), you and I did a fabulous job in designing an experience of others (and ourselves!) to explore that always difficult and always necessary act, art of forgiveness.

    Regarding the constant necessity of forgiveness, as I wrote to one of my high school classmates who commented on my post that she was/is struggling with forgiveness: “…my dear sister, we all do, all of the time. One of greatest ironies of this life, I think, I feel, is that we humans have been created to be in relationship, yet relationships, which can be the ground of our greatest joys, also can be the place from which arise our deepest pains. Thus, forgiveness is as necessary an act, an art as love. Praying your peace…”

    And, concerning my experience, as expressed in this post, it is a sobering reminder to me that one moment of acting on the offering of forgiveness — as important as that moment was and is — foreshadows (moving forward) more occasions calling for the same AND reflects (looking backward) additional instances when and where the same was required…

    I also more than suspect (which is to say I know!) whenever I wrestle with forgiving another I also am confronted with opportunities to ponder my own need of forgiveness when I didn’t do what I should have done or did what I should not have done.

    Love you,


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