I felt and heard my shadow so clearly this past week while visiting with neighbors in a church vestibule following a funeral service for one of our own. Our neighbor, Carol, had been sick many years with serious respiratory problems and is now at peace. I shared how grateful I would feel for my ability to be able to get on my bike and go for a ride knowing she was confined to being indoors most of the time. And then my neighbor, and former carpool member, Tom, asked me if I’ve been to a retiree luncheon lately. My demeanor went dark. I felt my previous sense of gratitude overcome by resentment. There was a bite in my words. I told Tom I half considered going to a luncheon a couple of years ago, but as I came close to committing, old fear surfaced. And now I clearly see I still have shadow work to do with forgiveness.
I previously put a lot of effort into the work of forgiveness surrounding my aging parents’ and their care needs. The following are thoughts I gleaned from reading Gavin De Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear,” public radio broadcasts, and a workshop I attended featuring Robert Enright and Susan Freedman from the International Forgiveness Institute, and some of my own conclusions. I’m grateful I recorded them in “God Never Hurries” for they now provide me needed review:
-- Forgiveness is most needed where things are least safe; and you need to be in a safe place to work on forgiveness.
-- Fear is more than fight or flight, guile and cleverness are just two of many ways to address fear; and fear keeps the world in check.
-- The human brain is never more invested than when its host is at risk; intuition is then catapulted to another level entirely, a height at which it can accurately be called graceful, even miraculous. It is going from A to Z without stopping at any other letters along the way.
-- Real fear is not paralyzing but rather energizing. It is coiled up energy. Perhaps courage is another name for this energy. Love is courage talking.
-- Denial of anger was cited as a clue to Pride and an obstacle to forgiveness. It takes humility to admit being hurt. It is humbling to admit woundedness.
-- Forgiveness results in emotional control. It transforms who we are. Freedom and a more real life view are its fruits. Forgiveness is giving up resentment and coming to view perpetrators with compassion.
What if I could remember all that as I continue my shadow work to forgive?