I didn’t want to talk about forgiveness – because how do you forgive when there is no resolution to the slights, the hurts, whether unintentional or not, whether carelessly, thoughtlessly given or not, but God would not let me walk away from this – because there are people God calls us to NOT walk away from. I’d like to thank Ann from A Holy Experience for holding up the mirror and saying, “Look! Now what do you see?” because that is what her theme this week did.
A storm whipped through during suppertime Saturday night. Power lines, big trees, limbs covered major and minor roads. In the morning, the boys picked up branches and twigs, lots of twigs – the kinds of twigs birds build nests out of, nests that are often hard to find, like nests of unforgiveness:
A maple twig of criticism, an apple blossom spray of disbelief, a sycamore’s shoot of confidence betrayed
and my nest of unforgiveness grows
and, because they seem so little, so harmless, so repetitive, I keep them
a hickory switch of rejection, unlove word-sprays from a dogwood, the laurel switch of deception
and my nest grows
a little birch of embarrassment, a cherry twig of dishonesty, an oak sprig of exclusion
and the plumage of my soul wears thin
Living forgiveness is not a one time action, a one time letting go. It is an over and over again thing – by people who should know better and people who don’t – our children, our spouses, the links and limbs of family, friends close and far, an inconsiderate college student who cuts in front of a 9-month pregnant mama’s parking space, souls we don’t know but brush up against in the wear and tear of daily living. Some hurts pierce and the deliverer doesn’t even realize their release.
“Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven
Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-23)
These hurtings, these twigs that pierce my heart and build a nest, from careless, unconscious cause-effect. I pick them up, not realizing the nest I am building, this nest of my unforgiveness.
And, then I remember who I am, who my Father is, how I do not have to live, that this nest I have built – I need to let go, so that when I see my brother or sister out of the corner of my eye or the edge of my mind, I don’t see the twig, spray or switch I picked up. I see the heart of another brother or sister in Christ, or maybe a brother or sister in waiting.
Forgiveness forgets, not just God’s forgiveness, but mine, too
like God forgives my cause-effect living
“And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins” (Psalm 103:12)
He keeps my wrong-doings as far away from me as possible, so that when He looks at me – He does not see my sin from the corner of His eyes or on the edge of His memory. My sin was burned up in the living sacrifice of Jesus.
Like the worn mythological phoenix and her next of twigs, consumed in fire and reborn,
Let, O Lord, my forgiveness given,
fiercely ignite this nest of twigs,
both me and my nest of hurts, burning, consumed in this redemptive fire
until I emerge from the ash heap of hurts
rebirthed through fresh forgiveness given
refreshed, cleansed, the plumage of my soul radiant
Recognizing that forgiving is not a one time thing
forgiveness is not resolution but rebirth through forgiveness
When the next storm blows through my life
leaving twigs, strewn about, and unable to help myself,
I once again bend to gather and rebuild an unforgiving nest of my heart,
My heart pinches, is pricked by these twigs, sprays and switches
Waiting for me to light the fire of forgiveness.
Hopefully, confidently, I will learn to forgive more quickly, to see the twig in my hand before I put it to the nest, or not bend to pick up but walk on by, but God knows what wounds me, what hurts me, that I am fallible, sin-prone and my mind is not like His.
Like the cycle of the Phoenix and her nest, I choose to ignite forgiveness and emerge renewed, unhurt. Unlike the Phoenix, Forgiveness is real and powerful – and is never used up.