Forgiveness

Forgiveness is…. the refusal to be possessive about the original wound; it is the act of letting the wound have its own life so that it can heal, mostly by re-imagining itself, and not by our telling the story again and again from the point of the one who carries the hurt.

Forgiveness is… 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 re-imagine our relation to it.

It may be that the part of us that was struck and hurt can never forgive, and 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, and perhaps, not actually meant to forget, as if, like the foundational dynamics of the physiological immune system our psychological defenses must remember and organize against any future attacks….

Stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, unforgetting 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 and 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….

Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity… a beautiful way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves….

To forgive is to put oneself in a larger gravitational field of experience than the one that first seemed to hurt us. We re-imagine ourselves in the light of our maturity and we re-imagine the past in the light of our new identity, allowing ourselves to be gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us and 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 and generous enough to receive, at the very end, that absolution ourselves.

-David Whyte