We are well into Lent, and I thought I would take a time out from the usual musings to perhaps concentrate on a bit of uplift, a bit of reflection, because I think we need it. Not that I wasn’t tempted to get off on a tangent – the now on-fire Steve King “civilization” comment thing is beyond reproach (look for more yahoos around the state to see King’s comments as a go-ahead for more racist justification of more yahoo type stuff – hey, by the way, your white hood is ready at the cleaners, folks). I’ll save that for my editor. Nope, I’ve got some items weighing heavy, and hopefully, you all can get some insight.
Usually, I take the time at Lent to improve, no, work to change some defect in my person that I feel are turning me in a negative direction. And really, non-Catholics can take in the season as well, and why not? It is the season of renewal, reflection, and change.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” That’s a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
Does anyone really realize how hard it is to forgive someone? Not for some off-hand comment on them not liking your choice of shoes that day, but what if someone shuns you out of your family? Arrests your kid, hauling them away from your house in handcuffs? Slanders your name to the point where you lose your job? Or the unforgivable – murders a family member? I know it’s horrible to mention, but these are things in life that are irrevocable, forever changing your life, putting a rip in your soul that will never heal. It’s inconceivable you could even approach the concept of forgiveness, even years down the road. I hope for many, we never have to deal to with a situation like those I just mention. On my worst enemies, I would never wish a pox like that. But given the overwhelming nature of those offenses, why can’t most of us even forgive the slightest, smallest cross?
I’ve known people that have burned bridges after one fight, blowing up relationships after 20, 30, or 50 years. Was it that bad? Something else must have been at play, because that just doesn’t fit the bill. And given our mud-slinging these days on-line, whew – friendships have been tested, divorce papers have been granted. Not good, folks, not good at all.
And here’s another dodgeball thrown at you – sometimes, you are the one who needs forgiven. If you don’t think so, go read some of the written works by Bishop Desmond Tutu; he will set you straight. Seriously, you aren’t always the victim here. I cringe when I think back on some stuff I’ve said or did, 50 years ago, or yesterday. Obviously, my B.S. Meter wasn’t working (and that ain’t bachelor of science, either). You can’t take back the past, but you can look to the future. I guess the first admission is if you want to even approach the concept of forgiveness. Of course, it requires insight, and internal thinking, and these are attributes that many of us, frankly, fall short on. If you really don’t feel the need, then stop reading right here.
How others act, what they say, what they’ve said to you or your family, what they believe or don’t believe – if you’re offended by any of this, then I think you need to ask yourself is it worth your time, energy, and being to carry some of these albatrosses around in your heart. Oh, it’s damn hard to let some of this go. I am the king, the absolute land monarch of internal seething – I’ll get mad first before I come to my senses. Then, I just let this hang on, until it weighs as much as Flava Flav’s time clock and gold chains, in my person. But what’s the option here – retribution, or redemption? Is it worth all the suffering? Some things to ponder – think about the families that lost loved ones to the shootings in a South Carolina church by a young white supremacist back in 2015. Some of the victim’s families actually told the defendant in court that they actually forgave him for his actions. Can you imagine? That is some power right there.
When I look at that act of forgiveness, there’s not much in question how small my feelings of being wronged are in correlation to an act like that. There’s no comparison. So, Catholic or non-Catholic, this is food for thought, stuff to chew on, and probably one of the toughest emotions to develop. So think about this nugget - is it easier to give up chocolate for 40 days, or to forgive?