The Practice of Forgiveness

key openingThe joy of consecrate life is often hijacked by collected rancor and hurt feelings in interpersonal relationships. People who harbor hurt feelings and fail to forgive offences are like a person who consumes poison himself to kill his enemy. Learning to let go like Jesus who prayed for those who crucified him is the way to reconciliation and healing. Consecrated persons can be men and women of reconciliation only when they themselves are able to let go of hurt feelings and experience the joy of reconciliation and forgiveness. Here is a practice suggested by Richard Rohr which can bring healing and wholeness in your life.

Welcoming Prayer, the art of forgiveness

Here is a practice of letting go and forgiving. The religious word for letting go is forgiveness. Please follow the process.

  • First, identify a hurt or an offense in your life. Remember the feelings you first experienced with this hurt and feel them the way you first felt them. Notice how this shows up in your body. Paying attention to your body’s sensations keeps you from jumping into the mind and its dualistic games of good-guy/bad-guy, win/lose, either/or.
  • After you can identify the hurt and feel it in your body, welcome it. Stop fighting it. Stop splitting and blaming. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger. It’s hard to do, but for some reason, when we name it, feel it, and welcome it, transformation can begin.

    Don’t lose presence to the moment. Any kind of analysis will lead you back into attachment to your ego self. The reason a bird sitting on a hot wire is not electrocuted is quite simply because it does not touch the ground to give the electricity a pathway. Hold the creative tension, but don’t ground it by thinking about it, critiquing it, or analyzing it.

  • When you’re able to welcome your own pain, you will in some way feel the pain of the whole world. This is what it means to be human–and also what it means to be divine. You can hold this immense pain because you too are being held by the very One who went through this process on the Cross. Jesus was holding all the pain of the world, at least symbolically or archetypally; though the world had come to hate him, he refused to hate it back.
  • Now hand all of this pain–yours and the world’s–over to God. Let it go. Ask for the grace of forgiveness of the person who hurt you, of the event that offended you, of the reality of suffering in each life.

 It is not that the pain will leave easily or quickly. To forgive is not to forget. But letting go frees up a great amount of soul-energy that liberates a level of life you didn’t know existed. It leads you to your True Self.

–         Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis, (CD)

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