It was Easter Sunday a few days ago, and what a lovely day it was. My friend Rona and her daughter painted Easter eggs for an egg hunt around the church compound, as expected.
But what I had not expected was that the priests had boiled up two basketful of eggs and had painstakingly stuck quotes from the Bible on each, and each egg had a different quote. I picked up one that said forgiveness. I can’t remember exactly which quote it was, as I discarded the paper and munched the egg immediately without thinking that much about the message.
It was only later that I thought about it.
Forgiveness. We have been taught to forgive those who did wrong to us. It’s almost like brainwashing: we have to forgive because we are decent human beings. We read and hear about the message to do with forgiveness, from the magnanimous, “Forgive and let go” to the vindictive”Let karma do the work.”
I forgive those who hurt me by rationalising, “It’s not their fault. They weren’t born this way. It’s the life they suffered that messed them up,” or “Hey, that was a good lesson, THANK YOU.”
But turn that forgiveness inwards to yourself and you’ll often find it is not so easy: we are less forgiving of ourselves than we are of others. I have only recently forgiven myself, years after my friend Eva died – I did not return her last call to me. Who knows, she could have been begging for help and I let her down because I was “too busy” with my new life abroad. I will never know.
For years after she died, I would visit Eaton Square gardens in London and sat on the same bench that we once sat on, tipsy from our lunchtime tipple, giggling like naughty schoolgirls. Every time something happens that is related to our old life, I feel the pain. I was more attentive to her in death than I was in life, because regret and guilt are strong feelings.
Her widower had moved on and remarried. I must move on to, by forgiving myself. There are still a couple of things I have to forgive myself for, but I have made a start.
Some beautiful words on forgiveness.