Wednesday, December 9, 2015


The quality of human life on the planet is nothing more than the sum total of our daily interactions. Forgiveness is the way we mend tears in the social fabric. It is the way we stop our human community from unraveling.”

-Desmond Tutu, The Book of Forgiving

I love to Now is the operative word in this sentence. I didn’t always love to read. Just ask my mom. I learned to love to read. I even know the day and the very evening this love affair with books, finally, and, reluctantly, began. My mom banished me to my bedroom because I needed to finish reading, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I needed to finish reading the novel and write the paper for my ninth grade Honors English Literature class. I think Mrs. Draper knew reading wasn’t my first choice, but I think she, also, knew I loved to write. What Mrs. Draper and my mom knew is that reading is the key to writing. 

I am not the best writer and I don’t really care. Glennon Melton once wrote something like, reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale. This sentiment is one I can agree with, for sure. I love to meditate because I love to breathe. And the path to a fulfilling breath lies in the inhale and the exhale. I love the exhale - the end of the cycle. For me,the inhale takes practice. Neither needs to be perfect or textbook to heal, but, both, the inhale and the exhale need to occur for the breath to be complete. So, reluctantly, I learned to inhale, like I learned to love to read.

Right now, I read Desmond Tutu’s, The Book of Forgiving. Just like my practice to inhale, reading, I, also, practice forgiveness quite a bit in my daily life. I don’t practice forgiveness just because I experience betrayal or injustice or personal failure or doubt. I practice forgiveness because I am human and I need to breathe like every other human. 

I watch the news. I listen to NPR. I read the New York Times. I see the mass shootings and the wars and ISIS. I see the rape of children and the slaughter of communities. I see the mothers holding their babies and I see the babies left in the dumpsters on the side of the road. I hear the lies politicians tell on a daily basis and I see the lies about celebrities on the covers of the magazines. I see the mama who cries because her child lies in hospice and he dies from cancer and she begs for a reason. I see the man who enters the grocery store that cuts me off as I enter, or the teenager who is stalling at the traffic light and holds up everyone from getting where she needs to go. I, also, see the lies and betrayals and hurts in my own life. I see my own face in the mirror, daily, that asks her twenty-one year old self, why oh why did you get on the horse? And I see the face of the thirty-six year old in the mirror, daily, who asks, why oh why haven’t you done more or better with your life?

I really don’t have answers to these why questions. I am a person who doesn’t believe there really ever is an answer to the why. We can beg and plead and pray and cry to learn the lesson. The lesson might exist, but the why really never comes.

The only true answer to our cries lies in forgiveness. It took me a very, very long time to understand what forgiveness really means. I still don’t have the courage or power or level of understanding or articulation to adequately describe its truest meaning or most defining definition. The only thing I know about forgiveness is...but for the grace of God (or whomever) go I. I know we learn to forgive the human, not the inhumane act. We do not need to forget or condone the action, but we do learn to forgive the person. Or as Bishop Tutu writes, "Within every hopeless situation and every seemingly hopeless person lies the possibility of transformation. " 

Once again, we learn to see ourselves in our sister and brother and friend and enemy.
Until we, ourselves, are faced with a situation, whatever this situation may be, we never really, ever know how we will respond. One of my very favorite mentors ever, Eileen Johnston, said after my accident, “I really can't judge parents of a child who is sick or injured. None of us knows how we will respond when one of our own is hurt or in need. Judgement is not necessary in this kind of situation. Understanding is the only option.”

Forgiveness. It’s a hard word and an even harder act. It requires an understanding of interconnectedness that far outweighs right and wrong. Forgiveness requires a faith in oneness. And this kind of faith is really, really hard. If we really want to heal the world and its children and its people, we need to forgive. We need to forgive, starting with the bank teller that hold us up because we think he is slow. We need to forgive the young girl at the stop light who is texting. And, we need to forgive the friend who betrayed us the most.

If we want to heal, we need to forgive. If we want to fix anything in this entire world, we need to forgive. This is not an easy answer to horrific problems. Forgiveness is a muscle that needs major, major work and this muscle cringes in pain as we build it. But, it has to be built. We must tear down the walls of hate and build the walls of forgiveness if we want the pain to stop.

I don’t have any answers when it comes to gun control. I am afraid of the damn sound of the gun. I, surely, don’t have any answers to war or ISIS or child rape. But, I can learn and vow to forgive the small things. I can start right now and, today -on a daily basis- and that’s something. Just like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”


  1. Love! Btw...I love reading your words and think you're a pretty darn good writer. I love this post because, I too have been feeling overwhelmed by so many worldly problems with no answers, and people so divided. Your post inspired me to forgive more....and to read more. I too am not a natural reader, but connecting the reading to the writing, for which I do have an interest makes sense - thanks!

  2. I love this so much. We are the same. Thank you for sharing you are not a natural reader either. I always feel a bit of shame about this truth, but you make me feel better. :) Oh, and the shared sentiment of feeling overwhelmed by so many worldly problems with no answers. Thank you, just thank you. xo


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