The Grace of Forgiveness

Excerpt from my book in progress, GOD OF LOVE. You have been vio­lated; there is no deny­ing it.  It was not your fault; you were too young to defend your­self.  You wan­dered – curi­ous, guile­less – into the grizzly’s cave and woke him.  He ate you up.  An adult you trusted betrayed you: plun­dered your body, shred­ded your con­fi­dence, frac­tured your spirit.  You grew up crooked, thick­ened around your wound, exposed to the bone in the places where once you were whole.  It took you decades to real­ize that what hap­pened to you was not right, would never be right.  This knowl­edge is more than you can bear.  You bear it any­way.  You are lovely and brave. But you are mad.  Your fury seethes under the sur­face of your life like an infes­ta­tion of ter­mites, chew­ing the foun­da­tions to pow­der.  From time to time the demons erupt and you find your­self lash­ing out at your dif­fi­cult chil­dren or your unhelp­ful lover and you hate your­self, and hate the one who hurt you — all those years ago — all over again.  You try to keep your resent­ments in a cage in your heart, but they escape.  You deal with the dam­age and lure them back inside.  You feed them and they grow.  You starve them and they mul­ti­ply.  You are not their jailer after all, but their pris­oner. Then one night you awake and your heart is quiet.  The worst thing that has ever hap­pened to you is curled up, harm­less, at your feet.  You stroke it, open the door, and wave good-bye as it goes.  You can clearly pic­ture the peo­ple who hurt you most deeply.  They are cry­ing.  Over­come with empa­thy, you too begin to weep.  You give them a hug, pat their heads.  With­out any words, you for­give them.  Grate­ful, they dis­ap­pear, like a genie released from a bot­tle after the curse is finally lifted.  You have never felt such still­ness, such a gen­tle breeze mov­ing through the cells of your body.  You fall back to sleep, and rest more com­fort­ably than you can remem­ber since you were a small child, a child who believed the world was a safe and excit­ing place, man­aged by grownups who knew what they were doing and loved you uncon­di­tion­ally. All the sages have taught you to love your ene­mies and for­give those who per­se­cute you.  But what they for­got to tell you is that you are pow­er­less to achieve this on your own.  You can cul­ti­vate a lov­ing heart through prayer and fear­less self-inquiry, through small acts of kind­ness and more rad­i­cal acts of social jus­tice.  You can turn toward your pain and say yes to your life, but you need the God of Love to meet you halfway.  You can­not for­give with­out grace.  And grace is not some­thing you can demand.  You can only sweep out the cham­ber of your soul and be ready to receive it when it comes. And when it does, there is not a doubt in your mind that you have been blessed.  No effort of your own could have yielded this light­ness of being.

15 comments

  1. Rachel Schneiderman says:

    Dear Mirabai, This piece just grabbed me and didn’t let go, in the best sense of the word. How true it is, and how com­pas­sion­ately, and elo­quently expressed. Much love, Rachel

  2. Gaye says:

    Oh yes I knew I was being blessed when the wind of for­give­ness, swept like a rag­ing flood, through my soul. Oddly the great­est dif­fi­culty came from those clos­est to me who found it hard that I had been given this grace in such abun­dance. My great­est sad­ness is that one of my clos­est friends could not accept that I had for­given and our friend­ship is foundering.

    For­give­ness is not easy or sim­ple and does not undo what was done but this incred­i­ble grace does allow me to move live in free­dom from the bur­den of anger and sadness.

    Thank you for this reflec­tive post, reveal­ing a sub­ject that is often brushed under the car­pet because it is seen as to hard and too impossible.

    • Mirabai says:

      That sounds like an issue that some­times arises when peo­ple go into recov­ery from addic­tion and the peo­ple in their lives can’t han­dle the awak­ened, healed per­son. Thank you, Gaye, for shar­ing your sense of relief from the bur­den of resentment.

  3. Judith Schiavone says:

    Mirabai, dear one, I will just keep sweep­ing then and trust in the wis­dom of your words. Bless you, Judith

  4. Antonia Marrero says:

    Dear Esteemed Teacher, Mirabai,
    This excerpt was exactly the image I needed. It blessed me yes­ter­day, when I first read it. It blesses me again today. It is a trea­sure. Thank you for­ever.
    Much love,
    Antonia

  5. Kelly says:

    Dear Mirabai,

    Thank you for being a bea­con for for­give­ness. This post has been an amaz­ing bless­ing for me and gives me the encour­age­ment to con­tinue to live my life for God and be the for­giv­ing pres­ence I have been called to emu­late for human­ity. Even though, I live it and give thanks daily, I still count on lit­tle bless­ings to remind me that I am on the right track. God has given me amaz­ing bless­ings this past year in which I can truly be filled with peace and for­give­ness. Includ­ing, a near death expe­ri­ence and visit to His amaz­ing king­dom. I am so blessed to read your mes­sages and know that I am on the right track. We are called to be His light work­ers and to live each day in His exam­ple. Thank you for giv­ing me the affir­ma­tion that I am not alone.

    Love and bless­ings,
    Kelly

  6. Elizabeth Sifuentes says:

    Mirabai, I do not believe I found this post by chance. Liv­ing my entire life abused, by my father and now my hus­band. The demons liv­ing within them have attempted to destroy my spirit, my joy, my life. I have lived in this pain for far too many decades and now pray for an escape. It con­tin­ues daily, my father I have for­given. My hus­band, I need to dis­tance myself from the evil lurk­ing within him. I ask for prayers, I feel bro­ken to the very core,and yet blessed to have met you. As I read your words, the peace of The Beloved sur­rounds me. I am hon­ored and hum­bled to be loved by such a won­der­ful God. Thank you my sis­ter in spirit.

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