I didn't intend to blog about forgiveness. But at the end of the BBC series "The Victim," there was a quote by the Persian poet, mystic, scholar who has come to be called Rumi. That's because his full name is impossible to pronounce and even more impossible to spell.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.
OMG, how these words resonate with me. And how I wish that in this time of stoked animosity and hatred more of us could meet someone in the field--meet halfway.
I won't spoil the last scene in "The Victim" but will say that, in the end, it is forgiveness that saves a life and allows a grieving mother and her ex-husband to begin to heal and carry on.
My mother didn't forgive easily. She held on to perceived slights and letdowns for dear life.
You didn't want to cross her. There was the time I spoke and signed books at a bookstore in Florida. She'd invited everyone she knew; if they didn't show (or if they didn't buy a book), that was the end of it. Only if they had a damn good excuse would she consider burying the hatchet. You know, excuses like "I chopped off my finger", or "My dog bit a neighbor and had to be put down," or "My son and his pregnant girlfriend showed up at our front door unannounced." "I couldn't find my car keys" didn't cut it.
And I guess my dad held on to stuff, too. I had a friend whose parents forbade her to associate with me because I'm Jewish. Then, after five years, her father relented and said that I could attend a graduation lunch at her home. My dad insisted that I not go. "How can you forgive them after all the hurt they've caused?" I felt that I needed to be bigger than her parents had been. And, so, I went.
I understand the challenge of feeling wronged but deciding to put the hurt and anger aside. Believe me, I've held on to all kinds of stuff that has festered for way too long. There was a friend who, wearing her therapists' hat, pointed out that, in her opinion, I had an unhealthy relationship with my son because we talked every day. There was my husband's first cousin who, at her son's wedding, didn't include us in the family photos. Good thing my internist wasn't there: he'd have taken my blood pressure and sent me to the hospital. (Spoiler alert: I'm getting over this second episode slowly, very slowly. Hell, I didn't want to go to the damn wedding, anyway.)
In his eulogy of the US. Representative, John Lewis, President Obama talked about forgiveness and how Lewis, after being clubbed, beaten unmercifully, spit upon and jailed more times than he could remember, never gave up his fight for equality and always forgave his attackers and those who wanted him dead.
Not sure I'm that evolved--in fact, I know I'm not-- but it's something to shoot for. As older women, we hold the experience and wisdom to show others how the game is played and how, at the end of the day, forgiveness makes all of us winners.