Tragedy Reveals Forgiveness Opportunity

turtleI was driving along the highway the other day and I saw a turtle capsized and off to the shoulder. I always try to stop when I find animals injured or passed away at the side of the road. Turning it over only revealed the helpless fact that the poor animal was still alive, but savagely and mortally wounded.

I gently moved it off to the grass, said I was sorry and gave gratitude for its sacrifice.

Immediately, I began a judgmental rant on how mindless people can be by not watching out for the poor creatures that become senseless victims. Next, I headed to a property where I was to do some gardening.

Karma?

At one point I needed to move a large pot to grab some weeds. I dragged it to the side only to hear the pained cry of a little toad. Mindless me! I know I should lift pots straight up to avoid injuring the frogs and toads that can live under them. Yet, it’s been awhile since I last moved one and I just wasn’t thinking about it.  Nonetheless, the toad was wounded in some concealed way and although it looked ok, its breathing was laboured and it wouldn’t move.

Had I just committed the same crime that I so mercilessly judged the turtle killer for?!

What was the Universe trying to show me?

My behaviour severely distressed me. I didn’t mean to hurt anything…but that didn’t change the fact that I had. And I couldn’t fix it. My mind was flooded with hopelessly flawed questions: Why do innocent animals and people die because of the ignorance of others? Is there a way I can prevent this? What if I become hyper-vigilant of my every move…but what if that doesn’t work and I still kill an innocent animal or bug? Why do we care more about the deaths of ‘big’ beings than small ones?

And then the big one: What if the turtle killer didn’t mean it either? What if we’re all doing the best we can with the hand we were dealt?

I realized that I was going to make myself crazy with questions that have no answers so I decided to hand the whole thing over to Jesus, my guide.

I started wondering about how hospice care workers can be with dying people when they can’t do anything to rescue them. Then the revelation came…

That was it! Sometimes you can’t do anything about things like imminent death except to accept that it will happen and to bless the little (or big) being that has shown you something…a lesson in forgiveness and gratitude. Dying beings rarely hold grudges and if it is an animal, they certainly do not. They aren’t angry or bitter at the person or other being that caused their suffering. They simply accept it and graciously slip out of this world.

So, to all the beings, both tiny and large, that have shown me true grace and forgiveness through their quiet sacrifices, thank you for teaching me to be more wary of my judgements against others and myself and for showing me that the only uplifting thing that can be done with a tragedy is to accept it and walk in love, regardless of the circumstances.

Believe that each person is doing the best they can with the lot they were dealt in life and you’ll find yourself a more compassionate, loving, forgiving human being. Start with yourself first.

P.S. I checked on the toad a few days later and it was not in it’s hidey-hole anymore so I presume it recovered. Phew!

Savage

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Fearless Authenticity

basejumpWe were talking about Sunday school experiences in our childhood. One person contributed that he didn’t spend much time in Sunday school because he was often kicked out. There’s nothing like somebody else’s story to help trigger memories of your own…

As a child, I was kicked out of everything: school, music groups, kids clubs, Sunday school. You name it. The reason? I lived out of my truth regardless the cost. In Christian school we were awarded a ‘character trait’ poster at the end of every year. I got ones like ‘fearless’ and ‘thorough’. I can still remember the sound of the entire audience laughing when they called mine out. I guess you could say I had a reputation.  Nonetheless, the price was high in the 80’s when corporeal punishment still existed in schools and churches. A much worse fate awaited me at home. (trigger warning)

I grew up in a family where babies were beaten for crying or waking up at the wrong times and children were dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night for violent reasons. For me the solution was simple, learn to dissociate from the body and live my truth anyway. The result was a lot of hiding under the basement stairs and spending time in the forest. It was in those places where I would meet Jesus and experience Holy Spirit in ways that were more real than anything I encountered in the physical world.

As the years progressed, I learned to live with the incongruency of outer compliance because I finally caught on that my chances of survival were greater if I kept my soul hidden. I’ve never disconnected from Holy Spirit. Jesus has always been a faithful companion and guide. The pure, unconditional love and intimacy I’ve experienced with the Father is not worthy of words.

My biggest challenge in adulthood has been returning back to that place of complete and wild abandon in my spirit. It’s there. I feel it in the forest, on my mountain bike or with people I trust deeply. But much of the time I withhold. A lot. I don’t want to be perceived as rebellious or a heretic or worse. I am not fearless like I once was.

The western world, with all its controlling institutions, has not made space for people like myself…and perhaps you also. Maybe you’ve felt it though; a growing dissatisfaction amongst the intuitive masses. Many of us are no longer content with just wandering in the forests or hiding behind our blogs.

It’s not easy going into the places that make me feel uncomfortable, the places where I’m constantly confronted by the battle between my ego and my spirit. While I’m fairly good at helping others with their issues, I really don’t know how to share my true self with people that live out of a different paradigm than I do.

The path I’m on is certainly not easy, but the way for my children is somewhat easier. My kids have always had the freedom to live from their truth in my home. It might seem unconventional and it’s definitely anti-institutional, but we’ve made it a priority that they always lead with their human spirits and tune into Holy Spirit. Their egos come up with some pretty interesting stuff too, but how can you learn to distinguish between the two if you aren’t given the freedom to make mistakes in a safe environment?

Holy Spirit works in weird ways that I’m quick to judge as ‘wrong’, especially in other people’s lives. Keeping my mouth shut and allowing Spirit to do its thing in others, and even more so in myself, is a lesson I’m doomed to repeat. God grant us grace to love and forgive ourselves that we might be empowered to do the same for others.

Sound

Hidden Toxicity: Forgiving the Institutions That Hurt Us

treeWhen you think of healing and forgiveness do you think of it primarily in the context of relationships? I do. Psycho-therapeutic approaches, holistic living philosophies and the Scriptures all tend to focus on finding wholeness through the repair work we do with others. I would agree; we heal in relationship. However, I’ve recently realised that I’ve overlooked an entire area of healing in my life. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Having grown up in a severely abusive home and community, I’ve attributed my woundedness to the gross error and negligence of my parents, teachers and church leadership. While it’s true that people were the ones doing the hurting, there was something much bigger that created the framework in which all that pain occurred. It was what I perceived as the religious institution of the Christian church. In objectifying the church, I’ve not recognized how insidiously my unconscious bitterness, resentment and blame has been festering toward it and how this is affecting my life.

In my young experience, the Bible was used to justify inhumane actions. Attending church made you good even if your behaviour spoke differently. Religion gave adults the authority to destroy the souls of children and rob them of their creativity, passion and innocence.

So while I feel like I’ve done quite well with healing myself in the context of relationship, I’ve finally been able to see how my toxic perspective on the church has been holding me back from finding true freedom in other areas of my life. The task of forgiving the errors of a ‘thing’ rather than a person seems daunting to me. It’s not as if those structures can reciprocate my desire for reconciliation. Or can they? Or do they need to?

Social structures are the products of the minds that create them, nurture them and sustain them. And behind those minds are people. I don’t know them. I don’t know their intentions. Much of Christianity, as we know it today, was formed around decisions made 1600 years ago. Yes, I’ve explored and questioned the events that led to its origins. None of that understanding does me any good anyway. Understanding is not required for forgiveness to take place.

Forgiveness is something I do for myself. Reciprocity is not a co-requisite. Forgiveness is a shift in my state of mind from perceptions that held me back to perceptions that set me free. A frequent side-effect is that the forgivee is also set free, but this isn’t a requirement.

People make errors, individually and collectively, for reasons that we cannot truly comprehend. They play their roles and we play ours. For me the question cannot be ‘why’, but rather, ‘what now?’

‘What now?’ involves the gentle guidance of Holy Spirit and the application of Jesus’ unconditional love. Can I forgive that deeply and love that big? Yes. The only question that remains is will I?

Yes.

 

 

Recognize