It is not possible to get to Carnegie Hall without traveling the path of practice, nor is it possible to find joy without the practice of forgiveness. Practice, practice, practice.
In my continuing quest for peace of mind and happy endings, I am more aware than ever of the need to put my money where my mouth is and stop talking and start doing the inner work that is necessary to move forward on the path to enlightenment.
In answer to my impassioned plea for more joy in my life I was rewarded with the opportunity to practice what I preach. This answer comes to me in the form of a person who is so in-your-face angry and contentious that I want nothing more than to see the back of her head when she walks away. The experience of being in her presence is so disturbing that my heart ties itself into a knot just thinking about it. Sometimes I think that God has a very mischievous sense of humor.
Twice I have received guidance and insight into the path to forgiveness of her and twice, it has slipped away. How fleeting these precious thoughts can be, and how quickly I forget! I need to write it down so that I can remember and practice, but it is so elusive that I ask for help to remember and recapture those ephemeral thoughts. Help comes in the form of a poem. Well, sort of. I’m not a poet.
She is not angry with me
She is angry with the world
Those in her path reap her wrath
Rather than respond with anger
I prefer to offer forgiveness
Yet forgiveness is hard to find
She is not angry with me
The world has done her wrong
Her anger lashes out on others
And she drives them away with her fury
She is in great need of forgiveness
Of herself, of others, of the world
If I cannot find forgiveness
Perhaps I can find compassion
Compassion for her suffering
Compassion for the pain that drives her
And understanding of the intense grievances
That clog her heart with the fear of love
Jesus implores us to forgive seventy times seven
I may find it in my heart to forgive today
Yet tomorrow will bring renewed opportunity
When she stands in my face once again
With a glare, a frown and bitterness in her heart
In her current state of mind
She is helpless to help herself
But I can refrain from my judgment of her
And silently acknowledge her suffering
In exchange for her anger and contention
I can offer compassion and forgiveness
And a prayer of peace and love for her
Seventy times seven
9 thoughts on “Seventy Times Seven”
Aunt Julia, you’ve really captured and expressed truth again in this meaningful post. The “poem” is terrific. Yes to compassion and seeing behind external expressions of pain and suffering. I like your “voice” in these last blogs. With love and respect, Connie
Difficult but good advice
This is beautifully written and very wise.
A couple of years ago, I worked with a woman like the one you described… very angry all the time, endlessly confrontational. A co-worker advised me, “Go to her from a place of compassion.” Though I didn’t want to and it was hard, I took my friend’s advice. At first, it didn’t change her behavior but I was able to change my reaction to it. Over time, I began to see her reactions to my reaction improve. It was baby steps but that made a difference.
I like Michelle Obama’s quote, “When they go low, we go high.” I once had a co-worker who hated my guts, though she didn’t even know me! Seriously. There had never been a word exchanged between us, yet for some reason she couldn’t stand the sight of me. Perhaps I reminded her of someone against whom she held a major grievance. When I saw her coming down the hall toward me, I’d put on my very best smile and say hello. She ignored me. One day after having spent several days at an ashram in the presence of a guru, I felt compelled to stop by her office and say a few words. Much to my utter amazement, I found her heart melted to the point where she would come and sit down at the table where I was having lunch. Perhaps it was all of that love and light streaming forth compliments of the guru. Whatever it was, it was a miracle!
I love that! You gave her what she didn’t know her heart was seeking 🙂
Beautiful my dear friend. Love, Ruth
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Thank you my dear!
I have been there so many times. I worked with one woman so contentious and malicious that I was sure God had put her there to serve as a lesson to me. I still thought she was awful, but doesn’t matter since shhe’s Not in my path anymore.
Sure does provide major practice in the art of forgiveness. Wow! And yes. They just keep on coming back until I get the lesson. Talk about slow learner!