Michael Feldman, What Do You Know, on NPR reads bits of news designed to start his show by invoking audience laughter. Today Michel chuckled through the bit about the Pope having forgiven the Jews for the death of Jesus.
The Pope and his predecessors fostered centuries of hatred towards the Jewish people for what a handful of men did in 33 A.D. In 2011, the Pontiff of the Catholic Church forgives the Jewish people. Following that line of reasoning, we can expect forgiveness for the Spanish people who conducted the Inquisitions. Oh, wait…The Spanish Inquisition was Catholic sponsored so no forgiveness required.
Following the Pope’s lead in finding a solution for a centuries old hatred problem, I offer my admittedly simplistic solution for hunger, prejudice and poverty in the world.
Abandon the Pomp and Circumstance way of conducting Church ceremonies. Dress Church leaders in Jesus clothes, much the same way that certain contemplative orders dress. House and feed church leaders in the manner of low to middle-income people of the congregations. Keep only those Church museum quality treasures that Jesus could have carried in his preaching life. Look at gold in terms of mitigation of suffering rather than enhancement of facilities.
And finally, take a long look at the nature of humans in all our characteristics purported to be created in the image and likeness of God. If the church believes that God knew what He was doing, it is time to beg the forgiveness of gay men and women for centuries of Church sponsored hated. It is time to beg the forgiveness of women for centuries of second class treatment. It is time to beg forgiveness from decades of men and women forced to choose between birth control, celibate marriages or too many children. It is time to prostrate before the thousands of victims of church accepted child abuse and cry in shame.
What is gone is absolutely irreplaceable, ambling Sunday drives to nowhere with the destination of passing time, quiet together, always aware of one another. Sometimes the pretense would be hardware from the tractor store, but we owned enough hardware stuff to start our own store. Other times a check of the river level pretended to be important.
Of course, I want to go back to the world that no longer exists. How does one imagine that–the demise of a world in which existence was so taken for granted? Grief is a watershed extinguishing the light from that other world, the world one wants to remember as idyllic. Of course, it wasn’t idyllic at all. Rather it had the comfort of familiarity. Even the hard times were predictable and, in their way, comforting.
What is gone is irreplaceable, will never be supplanted by anything new, no matter how beautiful. We might continue to try remembering, wishing, regretting –but eventually we will know; what is gone is truly irreplaceable. A Sunday kind of love simply isn’t on the landscape no matter how long or how far one searches.
Maybe, bit by bit, we can learn to go forward, form a new life, new relationships. Maybe it is possible to leave the mistakes and regrets behind, forgiving wherever forgiveness is needed. Maybe even the forgiveness of self will be part of this new world territory. Maybe?
Once upon a time in the land of make-believe, guts and grit saved the day. Odds against accomplishing the mission stacked high enough to abolish any thoughts of success. Not to worry. Fiction writers yanked those boot straps, reducing the negative to dust. Mighty Mouse saved the day.
Christmas can be like that Mission Impossible. We play the music. We serve up the sentiments, act our role, play our part. Deck the halls, make the food, arrange the beds, think the perfect gift scenario for about 11 months a year.
This time the odds against are the reality of baggage borne through years of silence, festered anger, magnified slights, painful memories. This time there is the look and feel of grungy reality TV, every one lives but no one wins.
That expression about ‘limp with resignation’ is on the menu board today. Remember that prayer line I like so much…”forgiveness…for what I have done and what I have failed to do”…? I have that thought every day and November 29 marks the day that I accept that forgiveness will never happen. Won’t? Can’t? Does not matter. The result is the same. A plastic pink Christmas tree trumps boughs of green and growing holly.
If you are a Gentle Reader visiting this blog regularly, you know that death visited five weeks ago. You know that grief invades with zero tolerance for hopes or dreams or myths. Death cuts that swath so well described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Death makes us impotent and raging with anger at that impotence. Death vomits up the mass that has choked and been swallowed.
No new beginnings. No phony fits and starts towards understanding or acceptance. No forgiveness. The year that Christmas did not happen? Feels that way…a deep and empty hollow place suffocating under the weight of that ugly pink plastic.
Combinations of words become cliché when they are close to perfect in concept. Very quickly, after being deemed perfect, they are relegated to the delete side of grammar check.
Damaged beyond repair is a cliché. As I think about a relationship, the hopelessness of repair forces the ‘beyond repair’. It is difficult to get my head around this one, this damage, this inability to repair what seemed so strong.
Years and years of wonderful history gone, of no consequence. Standing together, supporting one another during some of the most difficult years doesn’t seem to matter. Holding one another close, guarding secret pain, complete trust in that protection doesn’t seem to matter.
Confidence in the relationship was a given. Always. Together, trusting, supporting, understanding, loving each other was so simple, so easy. We are broken and the why of it seems insignificant when stacked against the loss.
The advice people would hang this on misunderstandings, would say that honest conversation would repair and reestablished. Not so. It will never again be the same. I know.
It is not possible to explain how I know that we will not repair our loss. If I try, I will cross a line of privacy. It would be a betrayal of the other person through venting my perception of this death. What I long believed to be as inviolate as our shared lifetimes is now no more sacred than any other discard. The fall from loving grace is a whoosh— and gone.
And even some Mea Maxima Culpa. We all have them. Most of us lament–yes, ‘lament’ –wishing for the impossible, a do-over. We all have them. Those moments or even years of fault where we have harmed those we love the most.
We made decisions. We balanced our needs and made a choice. We justified, excused or simply bulled our way through what we knew should not be happening.
A teacher at the Himalayan Institute says that the only real sin is self-condemnation. He teaches that we recognize what we did and then move on without that single crushing sin. For those of us stained with the Original Sin, moving on is a finger-nail distance from impossible. But for the sake of argument…
Forgiveness entails an act requiring foregoing of resentment or claim to requital. Forgiveness seems easier when the forgiven is an enemy rather than a friend. And the forgiveness of self is the most difficult of all. But if there is no condemnation, what value to keeping the concept of forgiveness? Forgiveness becomes a non-concept.
So if we simply recognize our acts as worthy or wrong, and move on towards of life of worthiness, what then? Do unto others, the same? What conclusion to this syllogism?
I absolutely do not know. But bit of folk wisdom recognizing that each moment in a life is but a snapshot taken in a miniscule of time seems relevant to the sorting.
Another fair warning, Gentle Reader. This is a ramble, unstructured and without a worthy conclusion.
A conscious decision needs to be made.
Forget the list.
Forget the spider web of thought that clings with sticky residue.
Move all those moments of meanness out…away…gone.
Erase any long term lingering thoughts that keep the dregs fresh.
This isn’t forgive and forget. Too often forgive is a phantom, only vague and indistinct. We think we forgive. We say we do. But the next time a pinch happens, the dregs resurface, good as new. Forgiveness is hard.
There is the forgiveness of the Bible, 70 X 7. Corinthians admonishes not to keep a record. “It is in God’s hands” is a waver and a waver diminishes my responsibility. St. Francis’ verse is a goal, but pretty impossible for most of us. And there is that “if only” as in If Only She/He would apologize, all would be forgiven. Not so. It helps but forgiveness needs much more. Forgiveness needs change. I might forgive 71 X 7, but by that time, my turn is definitely winding down.
Some would say that those ‘dregs’ are life lesson…that we need them to make good decisions. Maybe. And maybe they are stepping stones to a better way of handling those life lessons.
And I admit that forgetting is as close to impossible as forgiving. Further, I know that I need to step away from several ‘lists’ that have been growing uglier. And I am trying. But how does a person step away without walking away? How can we forget without relegating the person to a totally different place in our life?
Disengage? Disengage from the patterns that allow the list. But that comes very close to disengaging from the person. And sometimes keeping a person close might be worth fighting the list and accepting that getting pinched is part of the bargain. But why must renewable pain be part of a relationship? How important is it to stay close to hit-and-run?
Wish I could ramble this one to some kind of conclusion. I can’t.