Tuesday, March 30, 2010



This year, I've not kept a very good Lent. I am not any longer settled in my mind about the meaning of a good Lent. I think, for me, it's not so much about giving up something I like, as it is about doing something good and positive. I made two Lenten resolutions: to be on time to Sunday services and to attend the Lenten meditations on Thursday evenings at my church. I've kept the resolution to arrive in good time on Sunday pretty well. I've was a little late only once. I failed the Thursday test across the board. In my conscious mind I wanted to attend, but I forgot every single Thursday.

In addition, I've been playing around in my mind with confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I've reached one conclusion: Jesus was wise to teach us to forgive 70 times 7. I take Jesus' words on forgiveness seriously. Whether I forgive or not is a choice, but if I choose to hold on to resentment and unforgiveness, I know that I do wrong. I believe that forgiveness begins with an act of the will, which step I can only take with the help of God's grace. I've come to understand that forgiveness does not consist in feelings - warm and fuzzy feelings toward those to whom I extend forgiveness. However, I pray that my feelings will eventually line up with my will to forgive. When and if the feelings come in line, the entire process becomes easier.

I've also learned that once I've forgiven an offense, it's not necessarily a done deal forever and ever, amen. I realize that, at times, I must forgive the same damned offense over and over. That's when Jesus' answer to the question of how many times we must forgive comes alive. For me, the key is not to be defeated when hard feelings return toward the person who committed the offense that I thought was settled and forgiven, but to forgive all over again. I speak of persons both living and dead.

Do I wait to forgive until the person who offended asks forgiveness? Jesus did not, therefore I must not either. Besides, some people never ask forgiveness. Those pesky words in The Lord's Prayer, in which I ask God to forgive me as I forgive others simply do not go away, however much I would sometimes wish them to.

In purely human terms, I believe that harboring resentment and unforgiveness is unhealthy to the point of being poisonous.

Perhaps the "playing around in my mind with confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation" will serve as a home Lenten meditation.

Thus endeth the sermon.

And I cheated by getting your attention with a cartoon sent by Ann. Please forgive me.


  1. This reflection on the issue of forgiveness sounds like the fruit of a very good Lent to me.

  2. For me taking things on rather than giving them up seems more meaningful to me. I had decided to read a couple of books and our adult education class was studying a booklet on forgiveness. As life frequently does, there was a sharp curve. I read the books and we attended the adult education (the booklet was horrible) but the lesson in forgiveness was lived not studied this Lent.

    When Sarah and I first got together, she talked a lot about regrets she had over the relationship she had had with her daughter, Julie. Julie's last year in high school coincided with Sarah's growing need to transition and in a family who did not communicate well it was very difficult. Disastrous, in fact, with family relationships.

    Julie talk with Sarah occasionally but the sons (2) have no contact with her. Sarah had written Julie of the regrets she had because of how she had treated her during her last year in high school and had gotten a wonderful father's day card last year. Julie would visit when she was in town.

    We had gotten to know one of the sociology professors at the local university and he wanted to do a documentary of our life and Sarah's transition. We gave him a list of names of other people to contact. Little did we know it caused real distress in Sarah's family. Julie decided the story needed to be told from the family's perspective too. She was the only family member who agreed. The professor interviewed her for at least 2 hours. He brought the cd over a couple of weeks later. The interview was in two parts. We watched the video separately. Sarah's daughter was very honest and articulate. The first half of the video was the daughter's story of what happened in the family and after Sarah and I were living together. I think we both felt like we had been punched in the stomach after we saw the first half. We were really in mourning. The things Julie said were not said in an effort to hurt. They were things that we really needed to hear, hard as they were.

    The professor brought the second half of the video over about 3 days later. In this part, Julie begins to talk about how much she loves her father. The sense of loss they felt at losing him to the transition but how she was looking forward to making new memories with Sarah. This allowed us all to talk, give apologies and begin to live into new relationships.

    Julie even asked if she refer to me as her step mother. I was delighted!! Sarah and I are so proud of Julie. We are so grateful to her for the gift of forgiveness. We look forward to making new memories with her. This was a difficult and wonderful Lent!

    She even asked

  3. I've been a rotten Christian this Lent too. I usually am every Lent.

    But learning how to make productive use of Lent and sticking to it is small potatoes compared to learning how to forgive. In my experience, the best way to learn forgiveness is to be forgiven. Forgiveness begins with the desire to make a new start. When we decide that we value the person and our relation to them more than the offense, that's when we are ready to forgive.

    Beautiful meditation. I think you did a valuable Lenten service here.

  4. Paul, thank you.

    Two Auntees, thank you for your beautiful story. Receiving forgiveness from those we love is one of the greatest of gifts.

    When we decide that we value the person and our relation to them more than the offense, that's when we are ready to forgive.

    Exactly, Counterlight.

    And here we are brother and sister in committing bad Lent, and now we must forgive ourselves.

  5. I am very tired tonight but I do love this post and I also find what the Two Auntees say very moving. I like Counterlight's comment too.

    I'll come back to it tomorrow when I'm more awake and read what everyone says again.

    I haven't had a productive Lent really either but reading posts such as this greatly helps.

  6. Cathy, come back tomorrow. Thanks for your kind words of today.

  7. Over and over again...sometimes every single day.
    Good post, Mimi. Thanks for the cartoon too!

  8. Thinking and blogging about forgiveness is a great Lenten discipline, Mimi. Thank you Two Aunties for your story. That is forgiveness at its best. I can't say this has been my best Lent ever, but that's ok. I did at least get to renew my ordination vows this year and that has prodded me to be more consistent about reading scripture and doing the daily office.

    As for the cartoon. Absolvo te.

  9. And thank you all for your kind words.

  10. Thoughtful post Granmère, inspired me to think a bit more about it. Got a bit long for a response though.


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