Monday Morning Quotes

Monday Morning Quotes ~
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Since 1998 I've been sending out these reflections first thing each week--one or more quotes plus my thoughts about the intersections and contradictions. They're archived here back to 2002, and a new one is posted every Monday morning. Dialogue is still welcome . . .

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Quote #998 - #Atonement & #Forgiveness

20 Sep, 2021


"I've been trying to get down
to the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak
and the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinking about forgiveness ...

Don Henley
"The Heart of the Matter"

Yom Kippur just passed, the Jewish Day of Atonement, the day of amends and reparations, when we are supposed to ask forgiveness of both God and any person we have treated unjustly in the last year. (Some Jewish comedian said our religion is better than Christianity because they have to ask forgiveness every single week, while we get to do it in one fell swoop once a year--now there's a bargain!)

Perhaps, most importantly, we are supposed to forgive ourselves. "We cannot forgive anyone unless we can forgive ourselves." That one has been said by many. And, also, "It is easier to forgive someone else their mistakes than to forgive them for having witnessed our own." It is our own mistakes, our own imperfections, our own failings, which haunt us. And it is hardest to forgive those who have witnessed--or worse, been the brunt of--our most foolish or selfish or infantile behaviors. We don't want to own it. We don't want to experience the consequences of our own actions. Easier to run away--it seems. But the cost is huge. The cost is a chunk of our selves, shut down in an effort to contain and control each transgression. Enough transgressions, enough that needs to be shut down and contained, and you've got people "made out of ticky tacky and they all come out the same" (Malvina Reynolds) with barely any soul left to honestly respond to the real world at all.

So, you might say, just don't make mistakes. Don't fail. Be perfect. Then you don't have to worry. But, of course, that's impossible. We are human. We fail ourselves and each other all the time. And we fail even more frequently if we refuse to acknowledge and accept when we do. In the act of taking responsiblity, of coming forth and coming through and taking responsibility for the consequences (cleaning up our own shit), we make it more likely that we will do it differently next time.

Mistakes are not so bad. They can, in fact, be wonderful. It's how we learn. It's how we grow. It's how we discover things we never imagined. It's also how our heart expands and deepens with compassion and empathy for others (both those we have injured and those who make mistakes that injure us). Ignoring our mistakes is just a larger mistake. Shutting people and activities out of our lives to ignore our mistakes is even a larger mistake. All that denial. Just because we want the picture to look good. But it festers inside. And it continues to have repercussions until it is owned, addressed, and healed. There is no other way.

So I'm thinking about forgiveness ...

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