Monday, March 15, 2010

434: forgiveness

I bought the above stone at the hospital where Kelly gave birth to her son. We were in the gift shop, searching for an escape magazine for her to read, and this stone sat on a shelf, whispering to me about a forgiveness I've wanted for over a decade. I bought it to remind myself to strive to that, what Ryan insisted again and again to do: forgive, forgive. What use is holding grudges? What use is letting the past dictate a relationship, making it more and more tangled?

A few nights ago, I watched the documentary The Big Question, which had me bleary-eyed and has lingered long with me. The film is about forgiveness, telling hard stories: the Amish schoolhouse shooting (I remember being struck by news accounts of that pervading forgiveness), the Oklahoma City bombing (where one grieving father remembers how his daughter said of a Texas execution, That's just revenge, and the father was able to make peace in honor of his daughter), and so many, many other injustices--Hopi reservations, Japanese internment camps, Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, South African apartheid with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Thich Nhat Hanh, which was the draw for me.

I've been lucky enough to find myself in the act of forgiveness, and it's spread--making peace with the past is one of the best blessings one can encounter, I believe.

It reminds me of Life is Beautiful, a film I would end the high school freshmen classes I taught with--we'd watch the film and write an essay about how other characters we've studied made their lives beautiful (Atticus Finch, Martin Luther King Jr), how the characters in the film do so, how these students themselves look to make their lives beautiful. It's a wonderful way to end the semester, to look into months of summer.

I hope this coming spring continues to be beautiful; I hope I can find ways to push forth into that beauty, celebrate, make peace.


Rachel said...

A very timely post for me. Someone in my life (family), whom I've been unable to forgive for his actions against a loved one, is declining in health rapidly. I've 'punished' him for over a decade by not being in his life. And I've been struggling with what to do the past week. I went to a friend for advice and his definition of forgiveness really struck home with me. It's not about forgetting, it's not about saying it doesn't matter anymore. It's about deciding to not punish anymore. And so I will make contact...I won't forget...but I won't punish anymore. And that thought brings me peace.

I hope that you are able to work through your forgiveness issues as well and find peace.

Molly said...

Oh, Rachel. Yes: I think it's definitely not about "forgetting" as much as it's about moving on. Sometimes we do things that are terrible and that doesn't mean we deserve the relationship to be as it was before, but we do deserve to let it rest in the past.

I've made my peace with some pretty amazing awful things, and it feels so undeniably good--now I can celebrate the good things that went with those people / events, which is just one of the most amazing gifts I could give myself. I don't feel bitter any more, which is such an awful feeling to have inside of you.

I'm hoping you're able to find peace too, friend. xo