To forgive our brother is to forgive
We abandon our revenge;
Our lives have seen suffering enough.
We are tired and worn out with
If we take revenge, it will be the cause;
The effect will follow me into my next life.
Look into the mirror; see the compassion
in your heart.
Avoid all resentment and hatred for Mankind.
— Le Ly Hayslip from A Grateful Heart
“Time heals,” people often say. This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality. But when the expression “time heals” means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it. “Time heals” implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.
— Henri Nouwen from Bread For The Journey
The Invitation To Forgive
… the invitation to forgive is not an invitation to forget. Nor is it an invitation to claim that an injury is less hurtful than it really is. Nor is it a request to paper over the fissure in a relationship, to say it’s okay when it’s not. It’s not okay to be injured. It’s not okay to be abused. It’s not okay to be violated. It’s not okay to be betrayed.
The invitation to forgive is an invitation to find healing and peace. In my native language, Xhosa, one asks forgiveness by saying, “Ndicel’ uxolo” (I ask for peace). The locution is quite beautiful and deeply perceptive. Forgiveness opens the door to peace between people and opens the space for peace within each person. The victim cannot have peace without forgiving. The perpetrator will not have genuine peace while unforgiven. There cannot be peace between victim and perpetrator while the injury lies between them. The invitation to forgive is an invitation to search out the perpetrator’s humanity. When we forgive, we recognize the reality that there, but for the grace of God, go I.
— Desmond Tutu from The Book of Forgiving
Let me clarify that by encouraging you to let go I am not suggesting you do away with all personal boundaries, that you condone injustice or cruelty. Contemplatives are not Pollyannas or blind optimists. Our positivity comes from struggle and prayer, not from denial or repression. Through daily contemplative practice, we exercise the relinquishment of our egoic attachments. From our place of inner authority and freedom, we can speak truth to power with compassion and love.
Forgiveness is an act of letting go. When we forgive we do not forget the harm someone caused or say that it does not matter. But we release bitterness and hatred, freeing ourselves to move on and make choices grounded in our strength rather than victimization. Forgiveness opens our closed hearts to give and receive love fully.
— Richard Rohr from The Art of Letting Go
Lord of the world, I stand before you and my neighbors–pardoning, forgiving, struggling to be open to all who have hurt and angered me. Be this hurt of body or soul, of honor or property, whether they were forced to hurt me or did so willingly, whether by accident or intent, whether by word or deed–I forgive them because we are human… I am ready to take upon myself the commandment, Love your neighbor as yourself.
— Levi Yitchak of Beditschev from A Grateful Heart
Blessing: After A Destructive Encounter
Now that you have entered with an open heart
Into a complex and fragile situation,
Hoping with patience and respect
To tread softly over sore ground in order
That somewhere beneath the raw estrangement
Some fresh spring of healing might be coaxed
To release the grace for a new journey
Beyond repetition and judgment,
And have achieved nothing of that,
But emerged helpless, and with added hurt…
Withdraw for a while into your own tranquillity,
Loosen from your heart the new fester.
Free yourself of the wounded gaze
That is not yet able to see you.
Recognize your responsibility for the past.
Don’t allow your sense of yourself to wilt.
Draw deep from your own dignity.
Temper your expectation to the other’s limits,
And take your time carefully,
Learning that there is a time for everything
And for healing too,
But that now is not that time…yet.
— John O’Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us
The Poet With His Face in His Hands
You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need any more of that sound.
So if you’re going to do it and can’t
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t
hold it in, at least go by yourself across
the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets
like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water-fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you
want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched
by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.
— Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems, Volume 2