Misstep Category


Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Oddly enough, with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I find myself thinking about the people, places, and events of Easter—specifically, the “two others” (as one Bible translation calls them) that were crucified on either side of Jesus.

What did they do to deserve the most excruciatingly painful, humiliating, degrading, torturous and cruelest punishment ever devised?  Who were they?  Did they know each other beforehand?  Were they partners in crime?  Did they have family members standing at the foot of their cross?  If so, were those beloveds grieving, cheering or something else?  What were their professions, or did they even have one before they became “evil doers” (another translation’s interpretation)?  What led them to the choices they made that culminated with them nailed to the stake?

 In the books of Matthew and Mark, these men were referred to as “robbers” and both men joined in assaulting Jesus with insults.  However, in the book of Luke only one of these two “criminals” verbally accosted Christ while the other “rebuked the first” saying “Ours is only fair; we’re getting what we deserve for what we did.  This man has done nothing wrong.”  The second man, it appears, had a change of heart.  Why?

Had he seen or heard Jesus speak, perhaps at the Temple or on a hillside?  Was it the sign hanging over Jesus’s head?  Could he even read “This is the King of the Jews?”  Was he familiar with the Passover story?  Had he ever participated in a Pesach Seder?  I think perhaps the eyes of his heart were opened when he heard the first man say to Jesus, “Aren’t you the Messiah?  Save yourself and us!”—his heart burned within him as he asked “remember me when you become King.” 

Jesus, who had a habit of being in the right place at the right time, received this dying man’s plea and confession of faith.  With all the love his breathless voice could muster, he spoke “Yes, I promise you will be with me today in paradise.”  I can only imagine the utter relief, deep peace, complete gratitude and overwhelming joy and love that flooded the redeemed criminal’s heart and soul.

“In my defenselessness, my safety lies” is a teaching my cousin often quotes to me.  I cannot defend all the infinite missteps I take in one day—some bigger than others (as a recent occurrence has pointed out). I can only seek forgiveness.  My pastor said: “Defenselessness is strength.  It testifies to recognition of the Christ in you.”

“Ah ne’er so dire a Thirst of Glory boast,
nor in the Critick let the Man be lost!
Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join;
To err is Human; to Forgive, Divine.

(Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism, Part II, 1711)

Of this—forgiveness—is what I am and will be grateful for as the upcoming Holy Days commence.  Thanks be to God.

Change

Change

Here lately I am finding myself thinking a lot about change.  I don’t think I am alone when I say I don’t like change; as it may stir up uncomfortable feelings.  Benjamin Franklin is given credit for saying, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  He seems to allude to change as well—if “nothing can be said to be certain,” then change is certain.

A new season of change began for me a little over two years ago with the death of my mother.  She was my biggest cheerleader and my caretaker and I miss her tremendously every day—everything changed.  Just living without her was/is a huge change.  My career changed as well. 

After teaching Social Studies for several years, I taught Reading/Language Arts one year before retiring (another change).  And my husband and I just downsized—selling our home of 25 years to move into something smaller.   This led to a yard sale—letting go of items and the expectations that went along with those items; letting go of a home—feeling like I was letting go of my sons all over again because the best thing about the home was them.  This could be another reason why I don’t like change, because it means letting go. 

When I let go, what is there to hold on to?

This certainly isn’t the only season of change in my life.  Watching my sons grow to adults, leave the nest, marry and have children.  Changing careers multiple times in the last 40 years, a teacher for 17 of those years.  Marrying, moving, divorcing, moving, single parenting, marrying, moving . . . change, change, change. 

Lots of letting go, lets of grieving, lots of disagreeable, joyful, intolerable, awkward, happy, elated . . . feelings.  Change is neither bad nor good, it just is.

Through all those changes, letting goes and roller coaster emotions, the only constant for me has been God, through it all, only God.  Taxes, perhaps; death, yes; but God—always my Permanence, always my Comfort.

Accept

Accept

Accept God’s desires
Accept God’s possibilities
Accept yourself and others
without judgement
without planning
without fear
without time—future or past
without worry or sorrow
without pressure
without limits
without ego
without knowing
with surrender
with gratitude
with openness
with only now
with space and expectation
with trust
with arms spread wide
with kindness . . .
Towards yourself and others and God.

Just getting through each moment in this way is more than one can truly hope for . . .