As those who know me will attest I am far from being a religious fellow.
That having been said, attempts were made in the past by others eager to save my soul from myself so some of what was taught still remains with me long after Christian fundamentalist friends and family have abandoned all hope for my redemption.
Parts of the Bible still resonate with me from time to time…
“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
Shortest verse in the Bible and a masterpiece of powerful simplicity, it shows the divine son of God was so truly human that the death of Lazurus caused him to break down and cry uncontrollably.
“For God so loved the world…”(John 3:16)
I love throwing this verse back at those few who use religion to justify bigotry or hatred, for it illustrates that He loved not just a specifc group of people but the entire world.
And, of course, the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on Earth,
As it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power,
And the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen. (Matthew 6: 9 -13)
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
This part of the Prayer is extremely tricky in nature for it suggests that we cannot be forgiven until we forgive others.
Over the years I have discovered that relationships between any two people can be messy and problematic.
I confess that there have been days when closing the blinds in my bedroom and throwing the bedcovers over my head has seemed more appealing than dealing with the complexity of dealing with others.
Invariably humans, being only human, will either disappoint you or will be disappointed by you.
I recall a moment back in Germany in 2001 just after 9/11 when I found myself caught in a conflict between two teachers with whom I was friends with both.
One teacher was American, the other was Iranian.
The Iranian expressed sympathy to her colleague for the horror that was 9/11, but the American rejected her overtures of comfort and ended the friendship because the Iranian was a Muslim.
The American, in her pain she felt for the victims of this attack, couldn’t see beyond this pain to rationally view her Iranian peer as an individual quite separate in both action and belief from the 9/11 attackers.
I recall an earlier moment back in Montreal when I attended a party, one of very few I have ever attended, where alcohol flowed like a river and common sense was not at all commonplace.
Our shirtless host crashed across a sofa, dead to the world.
I took an ice cube and placed it on the base of his spine and waited for him to awake.
He awoke feeling frozen to his core and bore a grudge he held forever.
When a person feels slighted or disappointed or embarassed it is a burning boiling rage that defies rational discourse or response.
So is forgiveness possible?
Here, I struggle with my feelings.
For the person slighted, even though you know that the other person is only human, and might not have meant to hurt you intentionally, the pain and rage is difficult to overcome, forgive and forget.
You are hurt and mere words will not bandage the wounds.
For the person who did the wrong, it can be difficult to admit to wrong doing and confronting the angry offended person is very difficult to face.
You have acted contrary to the flock and as much as you may desire to be reunited, being alone and apart is less complicated then always being reminded of your transgressions whenever you encounter the wronged victim.
And thus a friendship, a relationship, a marriage, a family is fractured.
When humans stray apart from one another then sometimes only outside forces can mend this distance between them.
And even though we share a crowded planet, we continue to live lonely lives of quiet desperation, desiring love and affection, yet not really knowing how to make these elusive feelings part of our reality.
The only hope that remains is that relationships still await us that won’t disappoint us again.
Forgiveness is said to be divine because forgiving others that might not deserve to be forgiven is often beyond our human capacity.
My hope is that I can truly be worthy for those brave enough to seek love and affection from me.