A little over fifteen years ago when I started these pages, I asked the question
What have I learned that I can give?
I am continually amazed at how much I have learned as I continue this journey of introspection into my life and place in the universe. I have no idea if my ramblings are of assistance to anyone but I will continue to share if only for my own process of self examination.
My birthday is coming again. A reminder of how cyclical life is. Each year at this time I do something “good” for myself. I usually try to get away in order to regroup and await instructions for the coming year but this year my gift to myself takes on a different form.
As small children, under my mother’s caring watch, my brother and I would kneel down on our knees and recite the Lord’s prayer before going to bed. The key word here is “recite” because we were both too young to understand the words, or their implications. My mother felt it was important for us to have an upbringing which included the teachings of Jesus and a belief in God. When we were older, mom left it up to us to determine what beliefs we would hold onto from our youth.
As a philosophy major in college, I came to believe that God was more a creation of man than man a creation of God (a topic for later dialogue) but I still held on to many of the teachings of Jesus as I have with the teachings of other prophets including Buddha and Mohammed. One of the concept with which I was most impressed was Jesus’ doctrine of love. He believed it was important to love your neighbor, your fellow man/woman and even your enemies. To extend that concept even further, one must even love the person who is about to bring harm or possible death upon his personage.
I had a difficult time incorporating this concept of love into my everyday life until I re-read the sermons and gained a different insight. Jesus’ doctrine of love is really one of acceptance. I could easily accept people for fulfilling their purpose based upon their own beliefs and the social/religious/economic conditions in which each lived. I don’t believe I could kill someone but I can accept that another person could kill. I don’t see any purpose in wars but I can accept that it is the nature of some men to wage war against his fellow man. I don’t know why children or the innocent have to suffer but I can accept it as a part of the cycle of life.
Forgiveness comes in when we don’t accept our fellow man/woman for who he/she is. We judge them and make assumptions based upon those judgments. We therefore find ourselves in situations requiring forgiveness even of those we love, most often, especially those we love. Forgiveness is the antithesis of acceptance. If I can accept the person next to me for all that he is, I will never have a need to forgive him. Acceptance precedes forgiveness. Where the foundation of a relationship is acceptance, one will not need to forgive because with acceptance there is no judgment.
I believe is is necessary for each of us to accept the perfect imperfections of our fellow man out of love for that which we are, perfect beings living in the imperfect environment of our own judgments. This is my interpretation of the doctrine of love. Perhaps Robert Bly said it best in his poem Listening to the Köln Concert:
Harder than wrens’ doing, they have
to abandon their longing for the perfect.
The inner nest not made by instinct
will never be quite round,
and each has to enter the nest
made by the other imperfect bird.
So today, I ask forgiveness and acceptance of all those against whom I have trespassed and I offer my acceptance and forgiveness to all those who have trespassed against me. This is my gift to myself, to you, and to the world. My true desire is to carry nothing but love from this life to my final transition and since I don’t know when that day will come, today is a good day to start.
I must add one more note as I have recently had an experience where a friend brought great harm to my spirit and humanity through his unresolved anger issues. I have forgiven him his transgression. I accept him as a human being and forgive him but also choose to no longer associate with him as a friend. Jesus did not attend to the process of choice in our acceptance of our fellow man. There remains much to be written on this issue.