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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

 

 

basil on the porch

the morning after a frost

leaves limp and black things—

how greenly it met yesterday

no amount of I’m sorry will do

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It took five days, but at last I thought of you, old friend,

friend I loved and wanted to trust, friend

 

who burned every bridge I tried to build between us,

who turned gratitude and apology to smoke, to ash,

 

who taught me that love is not enough—a lesson

I never wanted to learn, which is why I am grateful

 

you helped me to learn it.

No one gets through life without injury.

 

Still, I wanted to believe that a kiss and forgiveness

could make things better, but some things

 

are better left broken. Thank you for teaching me

that all passes, that even without a road, without

 

a bridge, without a track, the train of time

finds a way to keep moving, eventually

 

speeding by so fast that what seemed

unable to be overcome becomes a blur

 

and that hope gives way to something even

more beautiful: saying yes to what is real.

 

So though you will never know it, I forgive you

for your scissored words and sharpened

 

silences. I forgive you for giving up on love,

for saying no, goodbye. It takes almost no effort now.

 

Even uranium has a half-life—albeit 4.5 billion years.

How much sooner forgiveness has come. More like a lawn

 

that went unwatered and dried to brown, to dust,

but then when seasonal rains returned, turned green.

 

Yes, thriving and lush, here is the new lay of the land,

ready for anyone to arrive. Anyone. Even you.

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Forgiveness 101

 

 

The first person I forgive today is myself

for staying up too late last night—how

I loved reading into the late hours, the story

 

crooking its finger at me, tethering me

to its pages. What good does it do

to call myself stupid, to lash out at the part of me

 

who thrives on those slender moments

when I am alone and the house is quiet

and I am the sister of words. No, better to tell

 

that late night reader that I’m tired.

Better to smile at her, though she thwarts

the morning me who loves to rise feeling rested.

 

She does not apologize. I know I will have

to forgive her again. Somehow, when I start

with myself, it makes it easier all day long

 

to practice forgiveness for others—

the slow drivers, the complainers, the bullies,

the pouters. They probably have happier,

 

calmer, more rational selves, too,

that they are also thwarting. All day I practice seeing

the heart of a person. All day, when I yawn, I smile.

 

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Forgive me. I do not mean

to be sharp, stark, sterile.

I’ve read of the salt mines

 

at Salzburg, how if you throw

a stick, leafless and dead,

into one of the abandoned workings,

 

then return months later and pull it out,

it will be covered in crystals,

“a galaxy of scintillating diamonds,”

 

writes Stendahl, “the original

branch no longer recognizable.”

I want to be like that stick.

 

Take my winter soul

and throw it into the mystery,

though it’s dark and cold

 

and easy to get lost.

What knows how to attract

the light will grow, will change me

 

until I barely recognize myself.

I do not mean to be short,

but I hear it in my words.

 

Stranger things have happened.

What is dead is sometimes

a chance to find new life,

 

to become a thing shining,

something the same, only fresh,

a thousand times more brilliant.

 

 

 

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Self-forgiveness is not the first impulse.

In fact, I curse. Run my hands through my hair,

 

tug at my scalp. Sigh. Again. My shoulders fall slack

in the place where my wings would be.

 

In my gut, the seed of apology starts to root.

Perhaps that is what changes things,

 

what allows me to let failure look me in the face,

let it trace my cheeks, the barest caress.

 

It never asks me to be beautiful. It never

expects nor wants perfection. It touches me so tenderly,

 

is it any wonder that soon the apology

spills from my lips like the clearest stream,

 

and I stand in the cold clear rush of it.

The whole world looks different from here.

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Across the country, blizzards—blizzards

so big that folks speak of bombogenesis

while standing in line in the coffee shop.

 

And the snow begins to fall, snow

blocks out the sun, snow fills the roads,

the drives, the sills until people begin to forget

 

who they are when there isn’t a storm.

Imagine the storm goes on.

Imagine that it isn’t snow falling,

 

but forgiveness. Imagine all those people

rising morning after morning to find

themselves buried in compassion.

 

Piles of it. Heaps of it. Giant white drifts of it.

It must be dealt with before anything else

can happen. Before people can even

 

walk out the door, they must lift it

and move it and feel its surprising weight.

Who knew there was so much of it? Who knew

 

just how completely it could shut things down

if not engaged with properly? It takes some time,

perhaps, before the people see

 

how beautiful it is, how every single thing

it touches is softened, turned to sparkle,

turned to shine. A disruption, to be sure,

 

but sometimes it takes a blizzard

to find the calm. Sometimes

we must be stopped

 

before we learn how to go on.

And the colder it gets, the more

we must work to be warm.

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on my shoulder

small drip of last night’s snow—

all my frozen places take note

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Again this morning

the invitation to be soft,

to notice how when we wake,

the cage of thorns that sprang up

yesterday is not now here.

 

It takes only just one thought of blame

or righteousness, and the thorns

return in all their ferocity

and brandish their barbs,

and flaunt their hooks,

 

but there is this moment

when we can simply notice

how soft we are, how vulnerable,

and choose to stay that way,

and a moment later, choose again,

 

oh, the morning, it smells like freedom.

 

 

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I’m not saying we shouldn’t be angry.

Anger seems reasonable. But perhaps

we will do what I’ve heard the Inuit do—

spend the emotion on walking, walk a line

until all the anger has left our bodies.

The moment the Inuit notice the anger is gone,

replaced, perhaps, by sadness or fear,

compassion or just a quietness,

they mark that spot with an object

to show the extent of their anger.

And perhaps, if we’re lucky, when we walk

this way, it will be a long enough walk

that we arrive at each other’s doors,

object in hand, and when the object

leaves our grip, we’ll be able to use our hands

to greet each other, touch each other’s faces,

point to the horizon to all the other places

we might choose to walk now together.

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After the frost,

the sweet peas

rise from the dirt

like little green angels

with bowed heads

and tiny green wings—

 

it’s enough to make

a woman believe

small miracles can happen

if only she plants

the seed.

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