It was a black night in the fall when I met Forgiveness.
She came because I had been calling out her name. I wasn’t sure what else to do. There were still things that I carried with me that I needed to let go of. These were heavy things—ones that made me think that my heart might not fully heal and ones that woke me up in the middle of the night.
In comparison to the worst, my luggage of guilt was fairly petty. But this night to me it felt like the biggest bag of leftovers I had ever taken home. These leftovers were mostly made up of moments in my life when I thought I might have hurt, disappointed or let someone else down.
I ran into one of these people last weekend, and I was trying to find a place of peace in my consciousness for my past to rest in. My head and my heart weren’t agreeing on this one and they kept chasing each other around and around.
This is why—at 2 a.m. this morning—I called out to Forgiveness, “Please, Forgiveness. Forgiveness, I think I need you.”
My old guilt had gotten stuck in my body around my hips and it was not budging. I had developed a certain sensitivity several years back and now whenever I was tangled up in something old, my body would make sure to let me know.
What had kept me from sleep this night was first the throbbing in my hips but then it was a whispering that came from within:
“I want to be free. I want more freedom.”
In those days, my body no longer let me get away with much, especially holding onto the things that weren’t serving it. She had become a bossy vessel to match a stubborn owner.
Forgiveness arrived promptly with her long, silver hair twirling and her traveling cloak still on. She was an old woman with a pale complexion. Her skin was almost translucent and, even in the dimness of my bedroom, I could see she had a milky glow. “I work nights,” she explained, defending her waxen likeness to the moon. Apparently I was not the only one who asked for help after the sun went down.
She sat gently on the edge of my bed, placed her hands on my body and then closed her eyes.
“You are forgiven.”
She said only these three words and then was quiet.
I waited a minute before I asked her, “but…this can’t be enough?”
She replied slowly and shared a quick smile. “There is only love my dear, only love. There has always been only love.”
She repeated this to me again and again, as if it was her favourite ol’ tune. Her hands were now resting on my hips. I fell back to sleep to her lullaby and when I awoke, Forgiveness had gone. I found one of her silver hairs resting on my white pillowcase and I remembered, there is only love my dear, only love. The pain in my body had vanished.
From her visit I learned that to compost my guilt, to turn the past over and make a rich fertilizer for the new, was not about resolving what I had done. It was not absolution the past required; it was a perspective shift. I got it. I could not erase or solve hurt that had been done by causing myself more of the same in the present.
Forgiveness cannot be argued for in our own heads, nor can it be won that way either. In fact, neither can forgiveness truly be given to us by another person. It must be something that we choose as a way to live our life. When Forgiveness came, she reminded me of the opportunity that is always here. I had the chance to face myself and my decisions with kindness, no matter what it is that I did or didn’t do.
It was not Forgiveness I needed and she knew it. It seemed maybe I’d had her name mixed up the entire time. I was the one who held the power to lay the past to rest. What I needed to do was to choose to face it simply with love.
Starting now, I elected to cause no extra hurt or pain in myself or the world. I believe Forgiveness is actually non-violence in disguise. As much as possible, I will choose to add no more suffering, even to myself and those memories where I may have acted wrong. It is even in these heavier spots of consciousness, I will turn towards with light. When I move from love, it turns out to be a heck of a lot harder to cause any more pain.
“There is only love my dear, only love. There has always been only love.”
Thank you, Forgiveness. I now know your true name.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person/Editor: Caroline Beaton