Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Does it Mean to Forgive?

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude". Martin Luther King Jr.

The following is passage from Jean Vanier's book, "Becoming Human". This section is taken from the final chapter on, "Forgiveness".

To forgive is to break down the walls of hostility that separate us, and to bring each other out of the anguish of loneliness, fear, and chaos into communion and oneness. This communion is born from mutual trust and acceptance, and the freedom to be ourselves in our uniqueness and beauty, the freedom to exercise our gifts. We are no longer contained and held back by fear, prejudices, or the need to prove ourselves.
So the sense of belonging that is necessary for the opening of our hearts is born when we walk together, needing each other, accompanying one another whether we are weak or strong, capable or not. This belonging will not bring feelings or superiority if we are walking towards inner freedom. It will not seek to exclude but to include the weak, the needy, and the different, for they have a secret power that opens up people’s hearts and leads them to compassion and mutual trust. This belonging becomes a song of gratitude for each one of us.
Of course, all this takes time. But are we not all called to take this journey if we want to become fully human, to conquer divisions and oppression, and to work for peace? If each one of us today begins this journey and has the courage to forgive and be forgiven, we will no longer be governed by past hurts. Wherever we may be-in our families, our work places, with friends, or in places of worship or of leisure-we can rise up and become agents of a new land. But let us not put our sights too high. We do not have to be saviours of the world! We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together to change our world one heart at a time.
Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, Forgiveness, Pages 162-163.    

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