Heaven forbid I use an actual dictionary to determine the most precise meanings of words and concepts when I can consult the boundless bastion of knowledge that is the Internet and get the same things done in a fraction of the time.
Today, my utter laziness and tendency toward the practicality of copy-paste did me a good turn. Here’s what I came up with for “to forgive” and its variants.
- Stop blaming
- Absolve from payment
- Concluding resentment, indignation or anger
- Ceasing to demand payment or restitution
But everything has a time and place. [And you can rest assured that I will be right back to complaining in no time.]
And today- in my Faith- is the time to forgive people. It’s the Eve of Lent, also known as Forgiveness Sunday.
On this day in the Orthodox Calendar, there is a special service where every single person, from the priest to the smallest child, asks for-and receives in turn-forgiveness from one another. It is a very simple and beautiful exchange. Each person asks for forgiveness; and when asked by the other, each responds “G*d forgives, and I forgive.” In the process, you bow and embrace one another. It is one of the more humbling things anyone can ever do.
It is done on the cusp of Lent to lighten our burden, to clean our slate, to give us a fresh start. And as I was thinking back on it, I realized. “Forgive” is not a noun. It is not a feeling, or a nice notion. It is a verb. It is an active release.
It is a little awkward to have a massive “letting go” or “release”; I felt a little bare emotionally in the aftermath, to be honest. But then I got to thinking, to love is also to act. So, what if, when I put down the burden of offenses and debts, I took up the act of love instead?
Every year, everyone talks about what they’re “giving up” for Lent. And I just realized that, in being called to forgive, I am called to give up the offenses of others, to let go the burden of grudges, bitterness and resentment.
No wonder I feel lighter. [I thought at first it was the obscene amount of sugar in my system from all the cinnamon rolls I ate earlier tonight.] But I don’t want to stand around twiddling my thumbs till Easter. My forgiveness is hollow without love; so I have a lot of work to do. And, besides that, there is one more person on my list of people to forgive.
Forgiveness of self is perhaps one of my greatest challenges. This was an area I left untouched today until now. But I realized how important it is in my reflection. Because when I am weighed down by guilt [far too often], it makes it harder for me to focus on others. It will take some serious thought on my part, but I am determined to find a way of thinking about this that is practical and balanced.
In the meantime, each of you is loved and forgiven. I wish you all Clean Slates and Sweet Dreams.