Forgiveness: The Sequel

Got a call from a friend the other day who wanted to talk some more about my last blog on forgiveness. During our first conversation, she’d asked if I was sure there was a correlation between the forgiveness work I’d done and some promising and unexpected developments relating to my financial situation.

Well, no, I have no proof of a cause-and-effect relationship. It could be coincidental, since one involved a chance meeting at an art opening, another an off-hand remark to an editor who is willing to pay more than I thought, and another involved a chance email I sent to people in Boston that could prove very fruitful.

But my friend was not persuaded. Not, I think, because she doubted the wisdom of forgiveness so much as she was reluctant to let go of her grudge. One of the first things she said to me was, "Do you have to talk to the person you’re forgiving?"

No. None of the people on my list were told they were being forgiven. In fact, I still can’t say with any certitude that I truly understand how forgiveness works. I find it hard to believe that simply by saying I forgive so-and-so, it actually happens. It seems like there ought to be some deep feeling required.

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The Power of Forgiveness

I went to Atlanta Unity church the Sunday before last expecting to hear a woman named Edwene Gaines talk about prosperity. But I was three days early; she wasn’t speaking until Wednesday night.

However, the four-piece band played Van Morrison’s "Into the Mystic" and an even better rendition of U2’s "Mysterious Ways," and I got a message I couldn’t leave behind with the church bulletin.

"None of us was parented the way we wanted to be all the time," said the minister, John Strickland, and yet the quality of our life is affected by our ability — or, very often, our inability — to forgive those against whom we have a grudge.

My father to mind. I’ve done a lot of work around our relationship, and I figured it was pretty clean. But he jumped so readily to mind, that I had to re-consider, and I was doing just that that afternoon when the phone rang.

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Dog People

We pulled off the pavement into a gravel driveway and descended into a wooded lot 12 miles from Brevard, North Carolina. The sky was overcast, the air was thick and an enormous black German shepherd with orange and white markings lay at the far end of the driveway.

He rose as we coasted to a stop near a stone house with a green metal roof and padded over to the car. Rearing up on his hind legs, he rested two giant paws on the door and peered solemnly into the car. Satisfied, he dropped to the ground and walked away.

I was among the dog people.

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