it's that there's too much to be said and no easy way to do it. If you read the recent sermon entitled "Bitterness, Forgiveness, and Life", you might guess that this sermon represents a whole lot of soul-searching and a growing awareness that when I preach forgiveness, I darn well need to be ready to offer forgiveness. And therein lies the rub.
As I gaze back over my life, there's no way to avoid seeing the bumps in my experience that represent people who made me angry at one time or another and the ones who still make me angry, even though I have not been in contact with them for years. I still resent the behavior of a number of people who hurt or let me down over the past 67 years. Some of them are dead or almost dead. I don't know the whereabouts of some of them.
It isn't a huge number of people, probably fewer than 5 or 6, but if I'm walking my talk, I would be free, or at least working on freedom, from the resentment attached to those old relationships. Writing the sermon gave me pause.
In my lonelier times, when I'm missing the presence of a loving man in my life, I brood over the ways my marriage to a self-described "outlaw" of sorts made me react with either suspicion or exaggerated trust to men I met, dooming healthy relationships with healthy men. So I beat myself up but also beat him up with my resentment, telling the cats all the things I wish I had told him. And not letting go of my anger for ages-old acts of neglect or disrespect means that I have that little set of videos always available in my head. What I want to do is acknowledge the gifts of the marriage (the FS, for one) and accept the rough edges (my fear of another failed relationship) and go on, not blaming him for my sorrow but moving through it.
But Forgiveness has another dimension, too, and it's hard. Corporate forgiveness is a tricky thing, when members of a community have been hurt by the actions of another in the community. Who forgives who? Who holds the space for healing and forgiveness to occur? How does a community legitimately ask a member of the community to wait patiently, hold anxiety in abeyance, and stay connected, despite the anxiety? When deep fears have been roused, old memories awakened, when the community wants to be comfortable together again but there are acts of contrition and acceptance that must occur first, what is the answer?
At our worship committee meeting yesterday, our chalice lighter read a meaningful passage which likened life's ups and downs to the waves of the sea, pointing out that between the high points of the waves, there is a trough of waiting, a place between the waves where it is necessary to be alert yet still, ready yet waiting. I've never been in a small boat in heavy water on the sea, but, boy, I know what it feels like.