The Art of Forgiveness

forgive: (v) to cease to feel resentment against.

Today is Christmas Day.  And this year — in the days leading up to today I’ve been thinking a great deal of the importance of finding, giving, and receiving PEACE.  A stillness within oneself – a reassurance and support we can give to another so hopefully they can find it for themself, or the acceptance of it’s offering from one that has wronged us in the past.

But the road to peace begins with the search for forgiveness.

I just finished Paulo Coelho’s “Aleph,” a few weeks ago.  The book was an incredible journey that dealt with the unresolved karma we carry with us from lifetime to lifetime, and how we are given the opportunity — within each life we live, to understand and resolve this conflict.  The most poignant moment in the story takes place within an old Russian Church, between Coelho and a much younger woman, a musician named Hilal — a woman he comes to realize he knew and greatly wronged in a life lived over 500 years ago.  He asks for her forgiveness — but only aware of her present life, which has only been tortured and difficult.  She looks inward, and delivers her forgiveness with these powerful words…

“I forgive the tears I was made to shed,

I forgive the pain and the disappointments,

I forgive the betrayals and lies,

I forgive the slanders and intrigues,

I forgive the hatred and the persecution,

I forgive the blows that hurt me,

I forgive the wrecked dreams,

I forgive the stillborn hopes,

I forgive the hostility and jealousy,

I forgive the indifference and ill will,

I forgive the injustices carried out by others in the name of justice,

I forgive the anger and the cruetly,

I forgive the neglect and contempt,

I forgive the world and all its evils.”

She goes on to add…

“I forgive myself.  May the misfortunes of the past no longer way on my heart.  Instead of pain and resentment, I CHOOSE understanding and compassion.  Instead of rebellion, I CHOOSE the music from my violin.  Instead of grief, I CHOOSE forgetting.  Instead of vengenace, I CHOOSE victory.

I will be capable of loving, regardless of whether I am loved in return,

of giving, even when I have nothing,

of working happily, even in the  midst of difficulties,

Of holding out my hand, even when I feel utterly alone and abandoned,

Of drying my tears, even while I weep,

Of believing, even when no one believes in me.

So it is.  So it will be.”

This moment in the story sent chills through me — maybe and hopefully you felt something similar as you read this.  I put the book down for awhile, closed it’s cover, and thought about these words.  Not what it meant to the characters in the story, but what it meant to me and then more importantly how it could be useful to others I know (or don’t know) who are struggling in one way or another.   I realize that forgiveness in itself is an art-form — a grace found in one’s way, how they view, appreciate, accept, and lead their life. But beyond this, I realize that forgiveness all too often is something we seek from or give to another.  It’s an external act.  This passage reminded me of the amazing courage it takes to forgive oneself.

Life brings with it it’s burdens – whether real or more often imagined — feelings of guilt, resentment, frustration, desperation and failure in our past or hopelessness when we look at a future far from the one we imagined for ourselves.  If not understood and dealt with, these wounds we inflict upon ourselves will only continue to eat away at us.  This time of year causes most of us to look back at not just the past year — but the depth of our lived life and…judge.  This year, or even today, look back not with judgement but forgiveness – let something or someone go.

Our happiness is the greatest gift we can not only give to ourselves…but to others as well.


~ by Dan Fabrizio on December 25, 2011.

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