Forgiveness – A lifetime Activity
Today I did the most ridiculous thing. I was having a breakfast meeting at a local bakery, my new office away from my office. I could have parked anywhere, yet I parked right in a bay where someone had spilled a container of sticky strawberry something, all over the ground, a pool of muck just waiting for someone to stand in it. I saw it there and thought, right I will avoid walking on that and did a good job even though it was the near the back door of the car. So off I went to my breaky, meeting clergy from around our area for a lovely social chitchat. Of course you can see what is going to happen, I return in rather a mellow mood only to go to the rear door and step right into the strawberry mess. Rats!!! My shoes are now stuck to the pavement and every time I step I bring with me a gob of strawberry stuff. In the car my shoes stick to the accelerator and brake pedal and I notice when I get to work every pebble I have walked on is there on the soles of my shoes. What an idiot, how could I have been so stupid. One little mistake almost ruins my day and my shoes!
Yet we all make mistakes, some small and some not so small. As I was driving to work after the shoe incident I listened to a women recount a story about her mother. Nineteen years ago her mother, then 59 went through a red light and was hit by a four wheel drive with a bull bar side on. Apart from serious physical injuries, she was also without oxygen for a time and suffered irreparable brain damage, with the result much like a stroke. After almost a year in hospital she was cared for at home by her family, at a high emotional and financial cost, such that the children remortgaged homes and all the family’s savings and superannuation were wiped out. While I didn’t hear the end of the story I think it is a sobering one. It is a reminder that one mistake can have huge implications of both the person involved and those around them.
Yes, we all make mistakes every day, some as trivial as mine and some with huge and often fatal consequences, like this poor woman. We all make mistakes and we all need forgiveness about those mistakes. If Christianity is about anything it is about forgiveness and transformation, starting again when there seems no possible way out of the mess quite often we ourselves have made. Jesus did not come to condemn but to save, and not to save for some other life but to save for this life. He shows us that by forgiving one another we are able to reconnect, and to recover, by forgiving one another a spark of light breaks through where there is only darkness and despair. He shows us that forgiveness is a gift from the God of creation that can change lives and communities. The woman from the car accident was not abandoned for her mistake, and was loved and supported until the end by her family at great cost. I managed to get over my irritation about my stupidity and move on. Sometimes forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing of all.
Forgiveness is needed in the world, for others or for ourselves. It is a daily ritual as essential as breathing. But if we practise it we will know one of the secrets of the universe. That there is always the possibility of a new day, for all of us!