I apologise for the fact that I am not about to invite you to five gatherings. This title comes from a book I am currently working my way through. I put it this way, rather than saying I am reading it, because it is not an easy read. The subject matter is not the problem, in quite a systematic way the author takes the reader step by step through his experiences working in a Zen Hospice and so naturally it is dealing with death. The underlying premise is that if we can understand a good deal more about it and the, sometimes, very complex issues patients can have and can be helped to resolve we will come to terms that death is a very real part of life and not to be shunned or run away from. It is not a journey’s end either because it is with us all the time. In this way we will experience life in all it’s rich fullness and we will also use our lives in different ways. Some of the thoughts and ideas expounded are very profound and I can often only read a few pages before having to leave it and think deeply about it all.
I should add that this is not a Christian publication, but it is deeply spiritual and I found it drawing me constantly to the teachings of Christ but adding an enrichment to them, showing me things I had not seen before.
The thought that I looking at here is sub heading which the author, Frank Ostaseski, quoting from Martin Luther King who said that, ‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.’ if we can ponder on that and understand that it is what a Christian would understand as constantly being in a state of grace , it can give us an whole new understanding of forgiveness. We can see that it is not necessary, ever, to make a decision as to whether or not to forgive somebody for the wrong or the harsh words spoken because the forgiveness is there right at the moment the deed is done. The concept can lead us to explore other teachings of Christ, and I think particularly of Love as Christ taught it and meant it. I say this because it sometimes applied out of context, in the realms of sexual behaviour which is a wholly different area.
Th author gives an example of what he means, using the case of a terminally ill lady whose brother’s bad ways had caused them to become estranged for some years. Anyway, the brother went to see her in a contrite manner to ask for her forgiveness but when they met she explained he did not need to apologise or say anything about his past behaviour because she had already forgiven him. It was just that, part of the past and did not need recalling. She told him she had found a place of stillness and peace within her. It required a little help and work on her brother’s part before he was able to accept his sister’s wholehearted forgiveness. The author cautions that not all situations are as quickly resolved, that some are complex and can take time, it was just one of the simpler illustrations of what he was trying to get across.
This is not intended as a book review or recommendation merely a short message about one of my own recent experiences. I hope that have managed to convey a little essence of what can be understood about forgiveness in it’s fullest sense.