Yesterday I looked up what the definition of "forgiveness" is in the tenth edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It defines "forgiving" as, "allowing room for error or weakness,"and "to forgive" as, "to cease to feel resentment." Really? This is such crap! Allowing room for error or weakness! Clearly neither Merriam nor Webster have ever had to forgive something grand, something so painful, someone, or someones, or some event that has blown the ground right out from beneath their feet.
Maybe we should start a new dictionary, with pragmatic real life definitions of words defined through our experiences?
So I sat down with this idea and began my own definition of forgiveness in this poem.
There is no end-game in forgiveness. No "ceasing." It is an on-going process of choice. We know that the bad happened, but we keep choosing to see the good and the beauty in the world. We don't get to wake up the next morning with amnesia and forget. There is no forgetting in forgiveness. Although, we certainly wait around for that moment to happen.
Instead, we let the pain rush through us, and we allow it to crack us wide open. Let all of the suffering cleave a path through our chest right to our heart. Just reach in through the rib cage and touch our life source. Ouch! This hurts!
We allow ourselves to make contact with the pain and we really start to feel tender and vulnerable, and this might at first feel like we are going in the wrong direction. But actually we are heading directly toward our genuine heart of sadness, and we are reaching in to feel that soft spot.
When we can move toward the open tenderness of our heart, we can begin to embrace our wounds directly. We can, with all-knowing, realize that we can withstand someone or someones or some event harming us....saying something gossipy or nasty behind our back and not wanting to retaliate...not seeking to get even....not wanting vengeance. We can undercut the energy to get angry when we are hurt, but only when we allow ourselves to FEEL the energy of anger. We have to FEEL it! It is a part of who we are. We have to make direct contact with it.
Let it destroy you. Crush you. Like everything else, this moment of feeling totally destroyed is also impermanent. This is bravery. Know that you will persevere. Even though feeling all of this pain might feel as if you will not survive from it, trust that we, as humans, are uniquely designed to do so. Don't try to quickly fill it in with words, and thoughts, and explanations. What we need to do first is make contact with that soft spot and let it open you with tenderness. Like a particularly poignant piece of music, let it move you, open you, sway within you.
If we deny ourselves the feeling of allllll of the pain, if we suppress, avoid, run from, cover up, attempt escape through whatever our distraction du jour is....wine, social media, picking fights.....then the path to forgiveness is not possible. We will continue to harbor resentment. We hold it tight within us. Even if we don't act on it, it lodges itself into our nervous system and snaps onto our blueprint determining our well-being.
Forgiveness is a fabulous adventure to discovering how we can meet our life exactly how it is. We don't get to decide what happens to us. But when the ground disintegrates beneath us, we can hop on the rescue raft, tie ourselves to the mast, and let it define us. Make room for it. Accommodate. This is the beautiful path of coming to know yourself with a long forgotten intimacy.
When we can meet our sadness of an open heart and touch our suffering, this is where the magic occurs. When we can decide to appreciate each moment, even when the moment is so pervasive and entrenched in palpable suffering.
When we get comfortable with the vulnerable state of raw, open, exposed pain and suffering, we can cultivate a sort of confidence. We can begin to define ourselves by rising from the ashes. Creating a strong essence and a resilient core of our being. This is the vantage point from which we can now stand. A place where we are Never-Not-Broken.
From here we have done the training and are becoming forgivingly "fit."