Thursday, March 10, 2011

Forgiveness

For my Ash Wednesday reading, I picked up one of my mom's old books and started to read about the last word's of Christ on the cross. Yesterday's reading looked at Mary Magdalene's perspective and focused on the verse, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."

Mary Magdalene, of course, had been forgiven by Christ for all of her many sins, not through her own merit, but by the grace of God. The author explored how Mary might have felt upon hearing Christ forgive his murderers. Perhaps she felt, "Isn't that just like him? Always so full of forgiveness." Mary Magdalene is a great saint in the church. And since she knew Christ in the flesh, perhaps that is exactly what she thought at the time.

But the author put forward another possibility. Perhaps despite hearing Christ's words of forgiveness, Mary Magdalene still harbored resentment against the murderers. Christ spoke of that happening in other parables. The parable of the servant whose debts were given but refuses to forgive the debts of others comes to mind. The parable of the workers who come late to the field but get a full days wages is another. Perhaps Mary felt like that - that these crucifiers weren't worthy of those words of forgiveness.


I've been reading this blog for a while now. The author suffered a horrific stillbirth at the hands of an incompetent direct entry midwife. Her blog is about seeking truth and justice and learning to live through this event. I read her cold words sometimes and I'm afraid she is becoming filled with a bitterness that she will never be able to overcome. And I become annoyed with her too. Why didn't she find a better midwife? Why didn't she ask more questions? Why didn't she go with her gut? Why wasn't she more informed before she went into labor?

and then I had an epiphany moment. Her blog is like a stone in my shoe because I have had those same feelings and I have asked those same questions about myself before - certainly about my first birth and also about the loss of Raphael, but more specifically about my mother's last months and days and the way her oncologist totally missed the diagnosis and  hospice care totally ruined what could have been an easier transition for mom and for my sister and me. And I ask myself those same questions. Why didn't I find a better oncologist? a better hospice? Why didn't I ask more questions? Why didn't I know more about her type of cancer before it got too late? hindsight is always 20/20.

I don't know how to let go of all of that, but I have learned to live with it, which is perhaps the best I can do. I don't know if that qualifies as forgiveness. Maybe we can settle for a truce.


My other, "forgiveness" issue is with my EFC, who managed to defraud my parents and steal 1/3 of their estate from me and my sister. I can honestly say that I don't stay up late nursing bad feelings about her. I hardly think of her at all any more. What's done is done. She's never asked for forgiveness. I guess I feel sorry for her more than anything else. But if she did ask for forgiveness, what would it take to forgive her? It seems to me that to be truly sorry for what she has done she would have to make everything right, or at least make an honest effort in that direction. I don't think that will ever happen.

A year or so ago I heard Father Larry Richards talking about a young man who confessed to him,  but then refused to say he was sorry. Father Larry then told the man, "Then I pray that you will experience the full consequence of your sins until you come to repentance." so maybe that's where I am with my EFC, ready to forgive, already starting to forget, but hoping for a little divine justice.

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