Forgiveness gets a lot of attention in spiritual circles and for good reason. A lack of forgiveness can lead to problems as far-reaching as illness, chronic debt, multiple dysfunctional relationships, and even suicide or murder. Forgiveness never means condoning or approving of what you did to someone, or what they did to you. Rather, forgiveness involves giving up the quest for a different past and surrendering to the IS-ness of life. Forgiveness helps us to play the hand we’ve been dealt, and move forward with confidence.
I did a lot of forgiveness work early on in my spiritual walk but hadn’t revisited the topic much since then. I do a daily meditation during which I release the minor things such as forgiving a rude comment at school or the bully who cut me off on the street. But real forgiveness work tends to involve those deep soul-shaking events that change the course of your life, or fundamentally shape the way you see yourself and the world around you. I did that work today.
I was moved to do it because I am exploring deeper territory in my art – going beyond pretty pictures to exploring more significant social, political, and spiritual issues. Also, I will be graduating soon and moving on to a new phase of life. So whenever I’m in a transition phase – going beyond the status quo and moving into something more significant – I think it’s important to clean house internally. So, I began with my journal.
I did journaling instead of meditating because the topics I needed to explore were painful. Writing provides some distance from your feelings and allows you to be honest so you can get it all out. The events that shaped me are traumatic childhood experiences. I faced absenteeism and indifference from one parent; chronic cruelty, criticism, and name-calling from the other, no one to turn to who would listen or care, and only one sibling who, even today, I have never successfully established a relationship with.
Thus far I have tended to gloss over these things, preferring to just move on and have a successful life. That worked well for years but today I had to revisit this stuff. I wrote out in full detail what exactly happened that hurt me. I listed everything I could think of. It’s amazing how much emotion can be tied up in events from decades ago. It’s amazing how vividly those events reappeared in my mind’s eye. I became short of breath as I contemplated how truly screwed up some things really were.
But after the list of negative things I received from each parent, I wrote about the Good that they gave me: my looks, intelligence, and spirituality on one side; my artistic talent, strength, and resiliency from the other. After listing what these two people gave me, I then listed what I have done over the course of my life to maximize these gifts. Slowly I regained my composure and my breathing returned to normal. I realized just how much I have accomplished in my life and how faithfully I have used the gifts I have been given thus far.
Finally, I wrote about what I hope for in the future. I wrote about all the things I still have left to experience in my life. I listed the things I’m looking forward to doing and having, and gave thanks for each one. I gave thanks for all the trauma because it has made me who I am. I gave thanks for learning how to meditate because I believe it saved my life. I released my prayers to the Universe with great gratitude for my own children who are my precious gifts, and for my friends, present and future, who will become my new extended family.
Afterwards I felt clean, happy, a little shaken, but ready. I feel more prepared now to be a beneficial presence on the planet and to help others reach their true potential.
With love and gratitude, I appreciate every reader of this blog and wish you all the very Highest and Best for your lives.
Now go follow your bliss…
These are a few items, (some very rough works-in-progress) from this week:
“Unborn”, clay sculpture, appox 12″ tall and 4.5″ wide; black mountain clay twice fired and dripped with white slip.
approx 30″X20″ graphite figure drawing on white paper.
work in progress; “NRA in the USA”