Saturday, July 11, 2009

"let's take a walk on the bridge / Right over this mess...Everybody needs a little forgiveness" - Patty Griffin

We are swimming with the snakes
At the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what's more
We never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will
Never be free
I heard them ringing the bells
In heaven and hell
They got a secret
They're getting ready to tell
Its falling from the sky
Calling from the graves
Open your eyes, I think we are saved
Open your eyes, I think we are saved
Lets take a walk on the bridge
Right over this mess
Don't need to tell me a thing, baby
We've already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed
Everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

I heard a story last night about forgiveness.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about it - I know both parties, and I know the kind of hurts involved, I've seen the damage done and I'll be honest, thought things would never change instead of living inside the hope I claim to hold onto...So here's some thoughts on that.

A while ago, and by a while I mean a couple years, one of my good friends, Spring, had a break in a relationship with another friend. By break, I mean, Spring spoke her truth and the friend did not listen and understand, but instead essentially told her she was wrong for thinking that way. She sat in judgment on Spring's beliefs, in a way that deeply wounded Spring and tore apart the relationship.

This was not a fun place to be.

I remember Spring calling me right after, crying and angry. I remember being mad for her, and wishing that other friend would have handled life differently. I remember thinking they were an idiot, which isn't exactly the mature position to take. I remember getting really defensive of Spring, because we happen to be much in agreement about life, and I probably was getting defensive, too.

But also I was sad, because it makes me sad when people do not see each other as the beautiful creations we are intended to be. I am not always good at this, let's be honest, but I have been finding that life is so much better when we treat each other as sacredly as possible.

Anyway, this stuff lingered around, heavy and uncomfortable. Spring decided she would be in relationship, but still speak her truth, and that might mean she didn't feel as invested in the relationship as she once was, and the relationship would change. It is hard to love people when you feel they don't see you, all of you.

About a year ago, the friend called when Spring was having a hard time. They had a conversation, somewhat stilted, and hard, and Spring was glad, but wasn't really made right.

Last week, that friend called Spring, and said she was sorry, and she wanted to be reconciled, for real. Not in a superficial, easy way, but in a deeper way of understanding each other.

And Spring was thankful, and even rejoiced. That word is so effing biblical, but you know, it's a good word, and I don't know if there's another good word for it. Rejoicing is such a good thing - to fill with joy, to be delighted. And we should be delighted when people want to reconcile with us, when we are in a place where we can move forward towards reconciliation ourselves, and not hold resentment or anger in our hearts.

The other thing is , and this is important, they are in a better place now because of that move toward reconciliation - Neither of them have changed their fundamental beliefs that inspired the breach in the first place. But the difference is, because of love for each other, both parties are able and willing to still be in relationship, to love and work it out regardless of personal ideology and approach.

That is what is truly beautiful here.

It reminds me of what Henri Nouwen says about love and forgiveness, I think in The Road to Daybreak:

"Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour, unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family."


What I am coming to understand about love is the piece about the work of it, how it is not easy all the time, how so much of it is about forgiveness, the kind that keeps no record of wrongs. The kind of forgiveness that every single one of us desperately longs for, the kind that makes me want to cry, the kind that as Peter says, comes from deeply loving, which covers over a multitude of sins.*

That's the kind of love I'm interested in these days.

*1 Peter 4:8

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