I like to multi-task. I know there is something to be said for being fully present, in the moment, but when I'm on the treadmill, I want to be somewhere other than the moment. Anything to distract from the redundant slapping sound of my tennis shoes as they hit the rubber. Listening to music is great... sometimes. But, even if you have over 500 tunes on your I-Pod, if you're like me, you’ve sung them all. My new love are podcasts. The free ones I can find on I-Tunes are the best especially if I can get them for the length of my workout. I discovered a few of these writers' interviews this past week and Anne Lamott was one of them. The interview was forty-five minutes long, just perfect. I am a huge fan of Anne Lamott’s work. I’m not always right there with her political beliefs (other than her stance on peace and ending the killing and war) but her relationship with Jesus, self-deprecating humor, sarcasm, humanness in striving towards spirituality, and most of all, her honesty, make me feel like I’ve found my soul sister. She tears open her shirt and lays it all bare; every defect, insecurity, and struggle.
In this particular podcast, she was discussing what was her newest book at the time of the interview, Grace (Eventually): Further Thoughts on Faith. The interviewer’s questions circled around to her liberal beliefs, her Christianity, and her personal relationship with Jesus. The conversation headed in the direction of when others hurt you, the resentment it brings, and forgiveness. Ann told the interviewer forgiveness for her, is more along the lines of “forgivishness”. A process that went something like this... I sort of forgive you today to the best of my ability, but I may be royally resentful of you tomorrow especially if the affront and pain pop back up in my head again. Hearing that, I actually whooped. And, jumped up and down on my treadmill. Note to self as I tumbled backward and let the wall behind me stop my fall... with my head: Don’t do that ever again.
Forgivishness! What a perfect term to describe the process of forgiveness. I can stop beating myself up over my inability to put the past completely behind me. I've surely tried as well as handed it over to God because I seemed powerless. I wrote about a recent "blue moon" experience a week or so ago and it was a perfect example of forgivishness at work. Forgiven today.... pissed off again tomorrow. Anyone who knows me well, will tell you, I’ve tried setting it all up in flames, but not everything burns so easily. Upon further introspection, do I really want it to? Maybe my inability to annihilate chapters of my life, forgive forever, and move on completely, is a gift. Because fire doesn’t burn everything and sometimes what’s left after the flames burn out, is the charred memory of spectacular moments, times of real love and intimacy, and the soul of another human being, just like me, capable of making mistakes, hurting others, and navigating their learning process. All of this might still remain, just waiting for the soot to be rubbed off, so something of beauty can be revealed. Do I really want to set off a nuclear bomb to all of it, just to move forward? Wouldn’t it be better to do my best on an ongoing basis to gently squeeze the poison out, a bit at a time? Let it ooze to the surface, rather than cutting it out and taking parts of the heart and soul that were present too and equally a part of the experience, or relationship, along with the excision?
When these hurts, offenses, and pain from the past arise, isn’t it better to allow myself to experience it briefly, extract what that pain is trying to teach me.... maybe I played a role and I need to learn how to not play that role again. And, then, do my best to forgive... myself and the others? If I played no role and still was harmed, perhaps it behooves me to look for the love in the aftermath, in the arms of others who stood beside me, comforted me, and loved me into life again? Doesn’t true healing really only arrive on the wings of love? So, if we burn away or cut out the good along with the experience, will healing ever take place and can forgiveness ever really come?
Forgiveness for me hasn't been like a one act play; rich with colorful language, thoughts of creative revenge and prayers for karmic payback. Final scene.... fairy dust drifts down on the stage and poof....it is finished. I tried that. Forgiveshness is a process, an epic production of tragedy and comedy, and hopefully when we are finished sorting through the rubble, plucking and tossing away the anger, resentment and hurt, we retain the lessons, the memories... and most of all the love. Forgivishness.. Finally, this feels authentic, and honest, much more in alignment with the peace, and positive energy I am trying to draw into my life.
The pressure is off. The guilt is gone. No longer do I need to beat myself up when I revisit unpleasant events and times I thought I had put behind me. It can take a long time, perhaps even a lifetime to clean off the charred remains of a past. I think it might be so worth it to process it this way. Gold doesn’t burn and never loses its value. Sorting through the rubble from time to time to extract something priceless, well, somehow it all seems worthwhile, even if I have to revisit the pain of the past to find it. There’s always forgivishness.