To forgive

When we’re hurt we naturally seek
to offload the wound or loss in blame,
as if the pain might stick to the fault, in someone else.
So we’ll even curse the coffee table—
“Stupid thing!”—for being there.
But of course projecting our pain doesn’t shed it;
it only buries it deeper, and in fact becomes
a way of hanging onto it.

Blame is a heavy load to carry,
the careful accounting, the accrual of debt,
care for the scaffolding of deserving,
the work of keeping the pain unfinished
because of someone else’s fault.
As much as I insist otherwise,
even when the other continues in evildoing,
refusal to forgive is never about the other but about me,
and my invisible chain to the past.

It’s a tough ask,
to lay down my burden and accept my pain,
but that’s how I get free:
accept myself as hurt, flawed, broken—
wronged, even.
So to forgive someone
is really to forgive myself.
Free to love myself, flawed as I am,
I am free to love the other, flawed as they are,
to know they too were moved by hurt they couldn’t bear.
Though I don’t condone or even trust them still,
I let go of debt. I free myself from the account.

In forgiveness I am free to love even my enemy;
only then am I truly free.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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