The archetypal themes of the spring equinox and Easter season are several and powerful. New life, hope and possibility after the cold death and darkness of winter, miracles of resurrection, dark nights of the soul followed by transformation and grace — messages that profoundly encourage and inspire us.
For me this year, the theme that has been a stand out in my reflection is that of forgiveness. Religious persecution is another.
In the Christian story, Jesus is taken not by lousy thieves and bandits, but by the admired and respected authorities of religion and state. Shockingly it seems we have not evolved from there in these 2,000 years. Intolerance goes on and on in all manner of human affairs. Why can’t we get it? I so wish we could get it. Even if a person doesn’t have a particular religion or politics, the tendency of an individual to have his or her own personal Way, the lens through which they see the world, and to resist those who seem to threaten it is no different from any manner of religious persecution. Everyone can benefit by sober reflection on this, I believe.
The pivotal moment in the drama of the capture, torture and crucifixion of Jesus seems to be when he asked for forgiveness for those who were involved in his death. He understood that they really didn’t get it, and he didn’t want them to suffer because of it.
Last night, Good Friday night, thoughts of this came over me like a storm and a weight. I had been watching the news and piddling around when suddenly I found myself unable to do anything but turn off all of the lights, fire up a bunch of candles and sit solemnly in the dark with my altar. I have not forgiven. I know I have not forgiven. Do I even want to forgive? Sometimes it seems like forgiveness is a naive collusion or denial, a failure to stand for something. I know real forgiveness is not that, so how can I find this in me? How does one accomplish that? It doesn’t happen just by saying you want it.
As I reflected, suddenly it became painfully clear to me that the person I need to forgive is myself. This is where it begins and that could make the rest of it easy. The many ways I have failed myself, disappointed myself, judged, criticized, betrayed or lied to myself — these awarenesses came in clearly and baldly. I have joined with some super-ego authority that prescribes what I could or should have done by now, how disciplined I should be, and on and on. It is a failure in tolerance. The people in my life that I thought I had to forgive, that I still know I have to forgive, hold a pale specter compared to this issue.
Now I see it a little more clearly; many thanks to guides, angels and powers who support the journey for helping me to see. Still, how does it happen? In this self-forgiveness work, just like any other, we don’t want to be in naive collusion or denial about what is to be forgiven. It seems important to stand for something. Figuring this out won’t happen just because by wanting it to, it will be a journey. A journey toward love and tolerance. I accept the task.
Forgiveness begins at home, they say. It goes out from there. It will take over the world I suppose when we start with where the calling truly begins.