We focus so long on the closed door – for example, anger we may be feeling – that we fail to notice the open window we can go through. Forgiveness is the open window, the escape from the room filled with hurt and anger in which we feel trapped. But we’re not trapped at all really. We can leave any time. It is only our stubbornness or desire for revenge or apology that keeps us there.
God is like the firemen outside that window of the burning building of your anger.
“Jump. I’ll catch you,” He begs.
He will catch you. His arms are wider than the entire universe that we can conceive in our minds, and then some. He is our safety net. It is our choice always to either die in the flames or leap to safety, leaving the hot anger for Satan and his minions. It is always our choice.
My forgiveness felt like I was jumping on a trampoline. I’d let go, release myself from the fiery anger and leap into the safety net. Ga-boing! Next thing I knew, I was back on the edge of the window of the burning room. I’d actually, figuratively, walk back into the hot, burning room and walk around it, revisiting my anger. Then, I’d leap again and Ga-boing again.
“As soon as we understand something, we have to be detached from our understanding in order to keep abreast of the exquisite delicacies of the divine action,” says Fr. Thomas Keating (Contemplative Outreach News, vol. 27, No. 2, June 2011). To be detached means letting go. God shows us this with His Divine Mercy, endlessly forgiving us our sins and insensitivities, our stubbornness and misbehaviors the way a gentle parent firmly guides and overlooks a two year old’s bad behaviors, choosing to focus on how adorable she/he is when sleeping or cuddling or innocently observing life. We have a hard time understanding how God can forgive us because we think only of the “terrible” part of the terrible two’s, or focus only on the number of dandelions in the grass instead of the thousands of beautiful blades of green grass before us. Likewise, in trying to forgive, we must choose to see the grass not the dandelions, see the beauty in the child at rest, not the behavior of the child who’s overtired or overwhelmed.
Forgiveness begins with our consent to forgive and is completed by God’s merciful grace that finishes the job and puts out the fire. It is always easier to dig out the root of one dandelion than to ignore it until it has spread its seeds far and wide. When we form the habit of daily prayer, Mass, or lectio divina, we give God the opportunity to purify us, to weed out our dandelions and keep our souls green and fertile, or if you prefer, filtering our muddy waters so His “divine light can penetrate to the bottom of our being.” Keating
excerpt from my soon-to-be-published memoir, Leavened.