Who is Forgiveness Really For?

“The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
[Mohandas Gandhi]

I have recently been perusing the old poems I have written, some dating back to my early teenage years. I think I have not written as much poetry since college, aside from one or two poems here and there. I have been mainly consumed with reading (studying, specifically), and this blog has allowed me to start extricating the creative juices once again. However, poetry writing has not been as forthcoming, has not allowed me to convey my thoughts and emotions as it once did. I have not even been to a spoken word session since my early college years! Luckily, the city of Charlotte does have fairly frequent poetry slams and open mics, so I hope to start attending these once we move there.

In re-reading my old words, some of which I have posted on this blog already, I realized that most of them touch on personal topics; some of these topics have resolved while others I still struggle with now. For instance, I wrote a poem about forgiveness, sometime during the past eight years or so (I cannot remember exactly when). Just last week, I was not quite ready to divulge these thoughts to the world at large via WordPress. But then, a post about forgiveness popped up in my “Blogs I Follow” list. It got me thinking again, and although I have not yet come to the conclusions that Marc and Angel have yet, and it may be a while yet until I reach that epiphany of truly letting go, I think what matters is that I brought the topic out from the dark, hidden corners of my mind and brushed the settling dust off. For even though it is not on my daily radar, the dust tends to build up, thicker and dingier, seeming to cover up certain difficult experiences. However, inevitably that dust will someday be suddenly disturbed and shaken, perhaps sending me into a fit of coughing, gasping for air, gasping for reconciliation.

Now, we often hear quotations and passages about forgiveness that focus on the benefit we glean for ourselves. In this approach, are we diminishing the value of forgiveness? Are we converting what should be a gracious act into a selfish one? Or do we as humans need to focus on the ego-boosting aspects of forgiveness to make it appear possible? We do not often think about forgiveness from the perspective of the one being forgiven, and how they may be craving our forgiveness that we are unable to offer. Most of us have been on this end, hoping for someone to forgive our wrongdoings, but how often are we on the other end?

So with that I decided to post my poem. Perhaps this will be a step towards slowly, carefully uncovering thoughts from their dusty shackles so that they can be understood, accepted, changed, and hopefully freed.

Forgiveness

What is it about forgiveness
that makes it so difficult to reach?
Whether we seek it for ourselves
or struggle to offer it to another
It seems nearly impossible
(the true form, that is…the real, pervading form).

We would beg for it
our knees bleeding against guilt.
We feel undeserving of it
and then relief, tinged with a slight hint
of caution.

But how freeing it is
once we have it!

How freeing it is
once this release sweetens our tongues.
Yet why do we find it so troubling to
in turn sweeten the lips
of another
who is parched
and waiting?

What holds us back?
As close as we may come to the edge
of opening our hearts once more,
we are quickly pulled backward again
By a memory of
betrayal
By a memory of
hatred
in their words and deeds

By a memory of a time
before any tables had turned
By a fear of the deceit
that still shrouds them
These turn the sweet honey to bitters
and fill our beings with lonely despair
again.

Often our perceptions of what
others
deserve
cloud our ability to let go.
But who are we to decide
who is deserving?
God Himself is not so picky
and does not choose which of us are
deserving of the ultimate love
So who the hell are we to be
more demanding
than God?

Still, we are human
Raw with pain
Tormented by the only thing we have ever known
to be true – our existence
and all that has comprised it.
Time does not heal all wounds
the wounds may merely change
in form, in depth
But they react still
when salt is poured into them

The salt
of our memories.

This self-awareness of
our weakness
is caustic.
We know we are not capable of forgiving
at least not today
And perhaps it is better to remain silent
than to throw the other,
who hopes for our once familiar face,
and once comforting words,
into the tumultuous storm of their guilt.

No, if we have experienced being
thrashed about by these waves
It is better not to forgive
for now
than to drown them
The way
we drowned
ourselves.

We know it is good
we are taught it is virtuous
but rare and beautiful is the creature
who can open its heart again
Risking being broken,
risking the fall
To free not one, but two injured souls
from the sad chains
of separation.

Yes, life is much too short
but it is also much too deserving
of an honest approach.
And so, we close the circle at the same dilemma
for forgiveness cannot be forced, bought, won.
It can only blossom
after wounds have changed enough
to resist the salty rains
And allow love to take seed
again.

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