Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lenten Practice and The Forgiveness Project

Lent is coming and I have been thinking about what my Lenten practice will be. I don't like to simply think of what I will "give up." A long time ago I had a spiritual director who urged me to think outside the "give up box." When I returned to church it was a little hard to take that part of Lent seriously... his advice has gone a long way, reframed in the context of true metanoia and transformation.

Today on Facebook, I posted that I might want to consider the unresolved business of my life for Lent. Relationships that are paralyzed - maybe they won't be saved, but they should be resolved. There are things, pretty major ones, that I have just not faced or dealt with head on, that need something. And of course, the secrets. The secrets are bad because they lead directly to lies. God, I hate saying that.

Ruminating on this today has lead me to think about forgiveness. As a culture and a society, we tend to oversimply and complicate forgiveness simultaneously. We either see things as non-negotiable unforgiveables or we do it in a way that does not walk through the valley of reconciliation death. That death walk generally needs to happen.

And forgiveness has as much to do with our ability to forgive ourselves as it does to forgive another.

In any event, I am reminded of some times, few as they are, when real transformational forgiveness happened in my life. I will write about that soon.

In the meantime, I would like to direct your attention to The Forgiveness Project. If you are not familiar with it, I would suggest that you have a look around. It is pretty profound - it is to me at any rate. I link to the page about Bud Welch; his daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing and his story has always moved me.

What do you think about forgiveness?

9 comments:

  1. Relationships that are paralyzed... What a beautiful expression, Fran. So very accurate.

    I have been working on these actively since 1999, when I found myself with breast cancer and saw myself surrounded by broken relationships, or much better said "paralyzed" relationships.
    I can say that miracles happen and relationships do start walking again :-)

    I saw this idea on Loyola of having a prayer bowl for Lent, in which one places prayers -- as in prayers to forgive someone or something.

    I like forgiveness.
    At this point, I would like to learn to forgive myself...

    I will check the site you recommend.
    Thank you and blessings :-)

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  2. Many years ago, during a Lenten reconciliation, I bemoaned my apparent inability to forgive my ex-husband. Thank God for the priest who said, "You're not ready yet" and then suggested I pray that God forgive my ex because, "On the Cross, Jesus did not say, I forgive them. He said 'Father, forgive them.'"

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  3. Transformational forgiveness -- it even sounds light. I am ready to off-load all that weight and misery.

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  4. Oh Claire - I found myself tearing up when I read your comment earlier and now I feel that way again.

    Thank you for that idea about the prayer bowl - I really like that a lot.

    And forgiving ourselves... that is the hardest part, I think.

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  5. Meredith - your comment renders me speechless. I will be taking that with me on my Lenten journey... Father forgive them. Wow.

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  6. Oh my beautiful friend Mau - thanks for your comment. We all carry to much when all we should carry is one another.

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  7. Meredith, I read that same advice years ago in a newsletter for survivors of sexual assault. I have used it for years in prison ministry where rage is more prevalent than anger some days. It is always a revelation of the heart.

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  8. nice post. thanks.

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  9. what Meredith said really was profound. I'll be thinking about that all day.


    thank you for the link to the forgiveness project. it's the most necessary impossible thing, I think.

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