June 10, 2016
Forgiveness was our topic last Friday. Our Spiritual Friday leaders all agree this is a topic that should be a focus each month. Self-forgiveness in particular is such a difficult principle for the patients to accept and yet, it’s undeniably necessary for recovery.
"Punishing yourself for your mistakes is not the way to end them. Loving yourself is." - Alan Cohen
After our usual opening and welcome, we added a new "group spiritual practice" the patients seem to really enjoy and by which they feel spiritually nourished. In a group, we first shared the "Joys" we’ve experienced during the week – good things that have happened or healings or awakenings that have occurred. And then, we shared "Prayer Requests," when the patients asked for prayers from the community for themselves or a loved one. These requests and names (first names only) were written down and then added to the prayer list at Unity Church of Delray Beach for 30 days.
One of the patients shared as a joy, "I'm alive!" Another patient shared right after, "I'm alive and I really want to be." That touched us all.
We had many beautiful readings:
"Why does forgiveness sometimes seem so difficult? Another person caused me harm by what they did or said, and I may have held on to a feeling of resentment for days, weeks, or years. I may ask: Does that person deserve my forgiveness?
A better question might be: Do I deserve to hold on to the pain of resentment and anger? I know that holding on only feeds my feelings of injustice and robs me of peace." - Daily Word
Is this what G-d wants for us? Is this what we want for ourselves?
"When I was a child, my father severely beat me. (good or bad?) This forced me to spend as much time as possible in a nearby wood. While in the woods, I learned how to communicate with deer, foxes, crows and one red-tailed hawk. Injured animals trusted me and allowed me to tend to their wounds. Many became my friends. (good or bad?) I had to quit school at sixteen and work in a factory to help support my family. (good or bad?) Two years later, I landed a job working at the same state hospital where my father had been admitted. He was there for seven years. (good or bad?) My father's illness, my past abuse, and my job as an attendant motivated me to go back to school and make a career as a mental health counselor. (good or bad?) Many children and adults, who had been unable to admit to anyone that they had been abused, felt that I would understand and allowed me to help them. (good or bad?)
Looking back, I wonder whom should I thank and whom should I forgive. What I believe has healed me and my life is not forgiveness, but a change in my perception." - “Forgiveness: Change in Perception” Science of Mind Magazine, November 2013
"I may have acted or spoken in a way I am ashamed of. I may wish I could retrace my steps and start over again. But it is through living that we learn and grow. My missteps help me to see how I want to change and who I want to be. No matter what I have done, I can start anew, make amends, and accept G-d's forgiveness... and my own." - Daily Word
After our readings, we had a meditation time focused on healing and forgiveness. I played the song called "Heal". Each patient then wrote down the names of people that they needed to forgive, including themselves. Then, they were asked to meaningfully and ceremoniously place the paper in the crystal bowl in the center of the room on our altar. Our spiritual leader Charlene Wilkinson then played the bowl, creating a harmonious healing blessing for each of the names and for our patients. It was really lovely. The papers were then taken to Unity Church for continued prayer for 30 days.
We then watched another video on forgiveness. The news anchor's introduction was powerful, "...the most potent power on Earth. It can change lives in an instant. Everyone has it, the power to forgive."
When we broke into our small groups, there was a lot of heartfelt sharing:
"I want to forgive the person who killed my family members in a car accident. I don't even know who the person is."
One of our leaders asked, "From whom would you like to hear words of forgiveness?" Answers included: My father, my sister, my brother.
One of leaders pointed out that not forgiving oneself is the ultimate arrogance; it makes us unable to be the best we can be – to move forward, change, and heal. With all we've been given, how could we choose that? It is a set-up for relapse.
“Thank you, G-d, for helping me understand that by forgiving myself I am recognizing that whatever happened was an opportunity for me to learn from a mistake. And I am grateful that I will not have to repeat it. Dear G-d, I know that through Your loving spirit within me, I have the strength to release the past and forgive myself."
Reverend Laurie Durgan