September 28 – About Forgiveness – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“The pain was necessary to know the truth but we don’t have to keep the pain alive to keep the truth alive.”

This is what has kept me from forgiveness: the feeling that all I’ve been through will evaporate if I don’t relive it; that if those who have hurt me don’t see what they’ve done, my suffering will have been for nothing. In this, the stone I throw in the lake knows more than I. Its ripples vanish.

What it really comes down to is the clearness of heart to stop defining who I am by those who have hurt me and to take up the risk to love myself, to validate my own existence, pain and all, from the centerout.

As anyone who has been wronged can attest, in order to keep the fire for justice burning, we need to keep burning our wounds open as perpetual evidence. Living like this, it is impossible to heal. Living like this, we become our own version of Prometheus, having our innards eaten daily by some large bird of roundedness.

Forgiveness has deeper rewards than excusing someone for how they have hurt us.The deeper healing comes in the exchange of our resentments for inner freedom. At last, the wound, even if never acknowledged by the other person, can heal, and our life can continue.

It is useful to realize that the word forgive originally meant both to give and receive—to “give  for.” In keeping with the original meaning, we can see that the inner reward for forgiveness is the exchange of life, the give and take between our soul and the Universe.

It is hard to comprehend how this works, yet the mystery of true forgiveness waits in letting go of our ledgers of injustice and retribution in order to regain the feeling in our heart. We can only hope to begin this exchange today, now, by forgiving what’s broken in each other and imagining through love how these holy pieces go together.

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