SEPTEMBER 19, 2020 SATURDAY
Forgiveness is nothing less than how we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts. The process is simple, but it is not easy — Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thursday night began Rosh Hashanah for our ancestors who celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year. Karen and I were invited to be guests years ago, to attend with a church member and her Jewish husband who was also President of the synagogue. The service, beautiful and moving, draws us into a time of repentance, the practice intense forgiveness of others, of self, during the ten days, that end with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish New Year.
My dear friend and colleague in Milwaukee, Episcopal Priest and Family Therapist, Scott Stoner, founder of the Living Compass movement posted a meditation on forgiveness. I borrow some thoughts from Scott – with his permission – to share with you.
As you probably realize, Jews also will gather online for nightly services in these holy days. Rabbis sought texts of sermons given during the same days in 1918 – the flu pandemic. Scott writes that they found a common theme. “Life is precious. Life is fragile. Life is fleeing. We don’t know how much time we have.” So they emphasized an urgent and focused message of forgiveness that year.
That same message is needed today. In visiting the Holocaust and Children’s Holocaust Museums in Jerusalem last spring, the Jewish people continue to stress forgiveness, as hard as it must be. In the sermon the other Sunday, I said that forgiveness is the beginning. Reconciliation is the goal that completes forgiveness. Sometimes it may seem impossible to forgive and reconcile with someone who has died, at least for now. Yet it is possible to forgive yourself — an internal and prayer-filled process, inviting God to be between you and the person you need to forgive and needing their forgiveness. You may be the person you need to forgive also. You may need to forgive someone in your past, you’ve lost contact with. Try it.
In this present time, we are continually reminded in sickness and death, that forgiveness is essential to our emotional, physical and spiritual health. Life is precious, fragile and passing on. None of us know when the end of life here may come.
I sometimes counsel you to look for the blessing(s) in the midst of this dark time. They are there. One of the blessings I remember from Roberta Bondi’s book on the Lord’s Prayer — when you pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven,” don’t stand before God alone. Take the person you need to forgive with you — in your heart and mind. After all, we pray – “Our Father,” and not “My Father.” As Desmond Tutu and his co-author daughter Mpho write, “The process is simple, but it is not easy.” Not a lot is these days. But I guarantee you — it will be good for your soul to try it — just stand there together, before God. Just try.
Blessings, peace and “wellness” to all, Fr. Steve