Forgiveness (from “Consolations . . . ” by David Whyte)

the following is an excerpt from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment & Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words written by David Whyte (published by Many Rivers Press copyright 2014)

Forgiveness is a heartache & difficult to achieve because strangely, it not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source.  To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to reimagine our relation to it.

It may be that the part of us that was struck & hurt can never forgive, & that strangely, forgiveness never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded.  The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, & perhaps, not actually meant to forget, as if, like the foundational dynamics of the physiological immune system our psychological defenses must remember & organize against any future attacks – after all, the identity of the one who must forgive is actually founded on the very fact of having been wounded.

Stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, un-forgetting part of us that eventually makes forgiveness an act of compassion rather than one of simple forgetting.  To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt, to mature & bring to fruition an identity that can put its arm, not only around the afflicted one within but also around the memories seared within us by the original blow & through a kind of psychological virtuosity, extend our understanding to one who first delivered it.

Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity & generosity in an individual life, a beautiful way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves; an admittance that if forgiveness comes through understanding, & if understanding is just a matter of time & application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing & eventual blessing.

To forgive is put oneself in a larger gravitational field of experience than the one that first seemed to hurt us.  We reimagine ourselves in the light of our maturity & we reimagine the past in the light of our new identity, we allow ourselves to by gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us & left us bereft.

At the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being.  In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now, we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough & generous enough to receive, at the very end, that absolution ourselves.

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