23 September 2007

Don't start with Nazis

I was exceptionally fortunate to have Mary Olive Hill as my spiritual advisor for 7 years before she died at age 90.

Her main topic was always forgiveness.

It took me a long time to realize what that meant. Not just forgiving people, but forgiving everything for being the way it is. That cracked window, that aching joint, that whiny neighbor. They very shittiness of life in a human body must be forgiven.

In reality you can either do something about things that bother you or not do something, but just hating doesn't serve any purpose so you might as well just get over being pissy about it.

That's why the serenity prayer is honestly one of the wisest things ever written:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

That about sums it up. Really. The spiritual wisdom of the ages in 3 lines. Nifty.

But back to Mary Hill.

New people in class always objected to the idea of forgiveness. "How is someone supposed to forgive Hitler?" they would ask angrily.

On these occasions, Mary had a great little smile.

"Don't start with Hitler," she would say. "Start with your mother-in-law."

As usual, Mary Hill was right. I may not be able to change the great injustices of the world, but there are plenty of small annoyances to work on in the mean time.

After just 9 short years of spiritual practice, I can usually drive to work without getting angry at the idiot drivers around me. I always was a great student.

What do you need to forgive lately?


BetteJo said...

Maybe I need to start with those drivers on the way to work everyday!

madge said...

Phew. I needed this today.

My MIL blows into town on Friday.

marian said...

nicely said.

Assertagirl said...

I need to forgive myself for making a poorly thought-out decision, even though I was trying to do a good thing.

MsLittlePea said...

I need to forgive my neighbor for waking me up at 4am with his loud motorcycle. I'll start with him.

Schmutzie said...

I could make a long list of all the things and people I need to forgive, but here's the one main one this morning: my office buys the most terrible, cheap coffee, and now my mouth tastes like garbage, so I need to forgive myself for drinking it.

mar said...

i need to be reminded of that more often. i used to have a psalm posted to my apartment door that i'd read/think about every time i left the house, but after a year the sticky wore off. it wouldn't hurt me to repost it.
"trust in the lord with all your heart..."

Lela said...

Hmm, I think the drivers on the freeway would be easier to forgive than my mother-in-law. Even in their never ending masses.

cindra said...

very well said. i needed this on this particular day. i need to forgive the adults who raised me.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is not dwelling on what was said or done it's letting go. It doesn't mean that you can forget it, especially when you know exactly what wrong has taken place.

Another way to start is not taking 'offences' from 'haters'.

thailandchani said...

Like this post.. very much! :)

I don't have too much trouble with forgiveness... perhaps because I've been forgiven so many times that it's hard to imagine not forgiving others.

As for Hitler.. well... at least in my tradition, it's explained by karma (which extends to worldy trends as well as individuals).

It's hard, yes.. but what's the alternative?




sheryl said...

Thank you, SueBob. I read you every day but very seldom comment.

I love this post - and it's something I needed to hear even though I am a pretty forgiving person.

I don't get annoyed at other people very often at all, and when I do get annoyed, it's usually at someone who is being unempathetic and unforgiving. No joke.

When people blog about other people annoying them, I (sometimes) get annoyed at the blogger. So I end up being a hypocrite.

I try to remember all manner of responses to life are within the realm of human behavior and experience. And even I have to be reminded to remember to forgive the unforgiving.

Thank you

Foggy City Mommy said...

him. see blog. doing his autopsy helped... I think.

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