"Do you want to breathe again
- Sara Renner
I agree with my friend Sandy Wilder, CLO (Chief Listening Officer) of Educare Learning Institute...it's all about forgiveness. When asked why he thinks forgiveness is so critical to personal and interpersonal mastery, peace of mind, and living on purpose, Sandy offered:
"When we dwell in 'forgiveness consciousness' we have given up the need to judge; to be right or wrong, better or worse, or hold an opinion. Whatever enters our experience is, in a sense, forgiven in advance, because we see it has never left its home in Truth. We are given the perfect clarity to get ahead of any problem, because it is seen as corrected before it becomes an issue that needs attention. We are in our 'zone,' listening forward the unfoldment of Love's direction.
This is living with mastery. This is where we exist on purpose, on our growing tip. The by-product: natural transformation, healing and changeless peace."
In the space of this hunger for mastery and forgiveness consciousness, Sandy introduced us to Sara Renner's heart-recalibrating song, "Forgive" at the beginning of a recent weekend-long gathering. We were there for deep listening and transformative self-examination under his gentle guidance and facilitation. When I heard "Forgive," I was stunned by how deeply its lyrics penetrated. They pierced through to a new place in my heart and began to dissolve a calcified hurt. A wounding that I didn't even know I was holding on to, until I heard Sara's song. And I was holding on. I was clutching my hurt close to my heart, and holding on for dear life.
As I later told Sandy, if I could have, I would have pushed a "pause" button and just soaked in that moment for a few days. And once the weekend was over, I did.
It was arresting, dissolving, and restorative. I later wrote Sara Renner, and told her how much her song had meant to me. And what followed, was a sweet interchange of emails that led to her graciously allowing me to include "Forgive" as one of the trinity of inspirational songs that serve as the soundtrack to my website, thoughtgentlywhispers.com. I am so honored. (Since the above links only offer a sampling of the song, if you would like to listen to the entire song, you can find it there on my website, it is the third song that comes up on the home page....you can fast forward through to the 7:35 minute mark by moving the control bar forward on the player in the bottom left of the screen. But if you have the time, I hope you will listen to it in the context of Michelle Armstrong's "Unfallen" and Mindy Jostyn's "In His Eyes").
Forgiveness is not one-sided. Forgiveness is as freeing for the forgiver...as it is for the forgiven. Each is holding on to something that the false ego will not surrender for fear of having no drama to call its own. Victim or perpetrator...it doesn't matter to the ego. It just wants a story to have a leading role in. It wants a voice and screen time. It doesn't care about our hearts, our relationships, or our peace...just its own drama.
How many times have I been like the monkeys I saw trapped on café tables in South Africa, because they wouldn't let go a peanut that had been placed inside of a hollow gourd. Their little hands would easily fit in the hole drilled on the side of the gourd, but once they'd reached in, their peanut-clutching fist would not fit back through without dropping the peanut first. Those silly little creatures would rather hold onto that peanut, than be free.
I can't tell you how many peanuts I have had to drop in the last few years...and it seems like I get tricked into reaching for another one every time I turn around. The only difference between the me that used to hang on for dear life, and the one that now forces herself to let go...finger-by-finger...is that I am more aware of how easily I can be made to believe I've been wronged, and that I actually have the right to be hurt, feel betrayed, or refuse to let go of an injury to my ego.
The false ego...yep, that's the demon. And this ego is always looking, wandering the earth, searching for someone, or something outside of itself, to demonize or blame. And when we believe we have an ego, and that this ego is our identity, we then feel as if we have to defend and protect, it. We hang on to its rightness, we protect its actions...however mistaken, we justify its drama...at all costs. The ego wants us to defend it, at the expense of our freedom to love, our right to live generously, compassionately, mercifully. Sometimes the ego comes in the guise of our role in someone else's life. Big sister, mom, best friend...then we feel we have to protect and defend the egos of those we love. And on and on it goes until we forget what it is that we are actually defending. What we are tight, and angry, and hurt about. We just are.
So, I am taking back my identity from the grip of the ego. I am pledging to be instant in identifying the presence of the ego's drama parading around in my relationships, and even quicker in my forgiving...of myself, and others. I vow to remember that we all do the best we know how at any given moment. If something regrettable is done...to us, or by us...it is some fear...of being rejected, misunderstood, or separated from good...that has coaxed us into this space. I once heard Bobby Lewis share a statement he'd heard years earlier, "There are only two things in the world, love, and the cry for love." I whole-heartedly agree with this profoundly simple truth.
When I have done something I regret, I find that it was either an attempt to love from a mistaken standpoint, or a feeble cry for love.
When we realize that we all spring from the same spiritual ground, or, as Mary Baker Eddy avers,
"The starting point of divine Science is that God, Spirit,
is All-in-all, and there is no other might, nor Mind."
we can humbly turn to the Source of our individual and collective being for a compassion-based view of our brothers and sisters...and ourselves. In the space of this grace-filled perspective, and with divine strength, we step gently into the light of our common humanity and accept that what we all have in common: a desire to love and be loved, to make a difference in the world and have our motives and intentions understood.
This radical love is the portal that leads into a new beginning...in every one of our relationships. When we tenderly extend the hand of charity, and surrender our hurts, we begin to find, through forgiveness and grace...a deeply settled inner peace.
I witnessed this kind of gentle peace in the heart of a friend recently. For the first time, I visited her in her home. I couldn't help but notice a remarkably beautiful item in their family room. I asked about it and she humbly shared that it was designed by a family member, and had been a signature piece in a line of merchandise that she'd carried in her store some years ago. I was impressed. The piece was classic and beautiful...and familiar. It didn't take me long to recognize the graceful lines as a design that had recently been carried by one of the "big box" retailers as part of their own line. But I didn't say anything.
Soon however, I discovered that there were many lovely items in their home, and I learned, one by one, that each piece had originated in the creative vision of the same extremely talented designer. When I pressed my friend for details about the designer and his work, she, very modestly, shared with me the old catalog from her store. I was stunned to see so many extraordinarily lovely designs, all by the same artist. It wasn't hard to see that the catalog was from almost two decades earlier. Long before the current, well-known retailer had begun carrying copycat knockoffs of their pieces.
I felt the weight of what this must have meant for their family. I could only imagine that having your one-of-a-kind designs copied by a mass-market franchise would make it difficult to remain in business as a couture design house.
But there was no anger in my friend's retelling of this story. She was gracious, appreciative of all that they'd learned during that chapter, and her heart was pure. Later that day, I asked her about another lovely item I admired in her home, she told me, without rancor or remark, that it was from the same mass retailer. I was stunned. This was the same firm who'd copied their designs, and ultimately made it difficult for them to stay in business, leading to the loss of their investment. I looked up at her with amazement. Here she was appreciating the simple beauty of the piece she had purchased from the company that had played a role in the closing of her business. I could see how truly free she was. I don't think she even saw the connection. She was soaring so far above, and beyond, the hurt.
In that moment, in the light of her example, I experienced a healing of my own. A thawing in my heart about something I'd been feeling terribly sad about for quite some time. I'd felt injured when someone I respected, and cared deeply about, seemed to have appropriated an idea, something I'd worked very hard to develop. It seemed to cut deeply. It had made me feel as if it didn't matter...at all...that I'd listened and prayed for fresh inspiration and guidance in its gentle development over the years as the concept had evolved, taken form, and found its voice. It was as if, by sharing the idea, it was now something that could be pirated, reproduced, and adopted, without consideration for the care that I had put into its birthing. This was a hurt I'd carried so long that my heart ached with the weight of it.
But in the light of my new friend's example, I began to waken to a new way of looking at things. I realized that I could let it go, and trust that God was always inspiring each of us, as his truly individual ideas, to treat one another's unique expressions of creativity with appreciation and respect. I began to accept that I really did know my friend. I knew this person's heart and was certain that they had also been praying. I began to consider that perhaps they, too, may have been divinely led to a design that might have seemed much like mine, but was purely the result of their relationship to God, Soul...the source of all good ideas. I discovered that by letting go of my feelings of my hurt, my heart...and my hands...would be free to receive more beauty, goodness, and inspiration than I could ever imagine in the myopathy of resentment and sadness. In the space of letting go, I was now open to new ideas, able to accept fresh ways of looking at things.
And I could also truly forgive...forego, give up...any sense of intended hurt. Appropriating someone else's ideas could only spring from a fear that we will never hear our own creative angels. But man isn't fear-driven...he is Love-impelled. And in kind, the desire to "own" an idea...as an originator...springs from the belief that we are disparate egos needing to possess something, and then defend our right to be its creator, to have been the exclusive originator of something...anything. But man, is free-borne...carried on the wings of Soul's ever fresh winds of infinite form, color, harmony, and design. Fear of being without inspiration, and the desire to own an idea were equally regrettable views of man. Two sides of the same coin. And just as easily forgiven.
Not only could I have compassion for anyone in the grip of fear-based thinking, I could have compassion for someone (in this instance, myself) whose ego screamed for recognition. Silly ego!! The resentment and hurt that had gripped me so tightly, seemed insignificant, foreign, and dismissible all of a sudden.
And in that moment, I had a fresh insight on Mary Baker Eddy's statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
"Mortals are egotists. They believe themselves to be independent workers, personal authors, and even privileged originators of something which Deity would not or could not create."
Why would I ever want to possess something exclusively. It was absolutely contrary to everything I believed about Love's generous gifts of beauty.
Or as Eddy further promises:
"Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."
Every good, beautiful, and right idea springs from an infinite well of impartial and universal goodness. I could no more own an idea. than I could own beauty or intelligence, a math equation or a beautiful word...like "grace" or "hope".
My hostess' example of forgiveness was pure and clear...it washed away all the grime on my own heart and allowed me to see more clearly what I, too, could so easily do... just let go.
Forgiveness comes in many forms....I had to forgive myself for carrying those feelings of exclusivity, possessiveness, hurt and resentment, before I could discover something truly original (originating in God's infinite goodness), fresh, and lovely. Something just waiting to be seen, articulated, and shared in His way...generously, impartially, and universally.
Forgiveness is like that. It is like opening our hand inside of a gourd and letting go of the peanut so that we are free to gather armloads of fresh inspiration, beauty, and joy....to be ready to accept the gift of being forgiven ourselves....
And sometimes, if we only capture the moment of forgiveness in a single frame, opening our hand to let go...looks just like opening our hand to receive...
Thank you Sandy, Sara, Bobby, my Soul-celebrating friend, and my dear long-time friend...I am blessed by your examples...and your grace,
Kate Robertson, CS