The wonderful poet, David Whyte hosts a series of talks every second month, called the Three Sundays. In the last session of The Three Sunday’s in July he read the poem, Forgiveness from his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. This inspired me to use his words for The Coterie Global Members meeting this morning. Thank you founder, Mel Greblo, for the invitation to host the session.
After a welcoming meditation, I spoke excerpts from David’s piece on Forgiveness and invited members to write, draw or move to whatever was stirred in them by the poetry. Or, to just close their eyes and listen deeply.
You may wish to journal your responses as you read it below — I took a pause between each paragraph sometimes, as is David’s way, rereading certain lines so that they can be received more fully.
Forgiveness is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, the act of forgiveness not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source. To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to reimagine our relation to it.
It may be that the part of us that was struck and hurt can never forgive, and that forgiveness itself never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded. The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, and perhaps, not meant to forget…
Stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, un-forgetting part of us that eventually makes forgiveness an act of compassion rather than one of simple forgetting…
Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity in an individual life, a beautiful question and a way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves; an admittance that if forgiveness comes through understanding, and if understanding is just a matter of time and application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama, rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing and eventual blessing.
To forgive is to put oneself in a larger gravitational field of experience than the one that first seemed to hurt us. We reimagine ourselves in the light of our maturity and we reimagine the past in the light of our new identity, we allow ourselves to be gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us and left us bereft.
…at the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being. In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now, we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough and generous enough to receive, at our very end, that necessary absolution ourselves.
We reimagine ourselves in the light of our maturity and we reimagine the past in the light of our new identity, we allow ourselves to be gifted by a story larger than the story that first hurt us and left us bereft.
We met in smaller groups and shared our own reflections and insights from this practice and when back in the larger group I invited members to reflect upon what would it take to forgive, ourselves or others? What needs would forgiveness meet? And to choose 2-3 needs words from the following Needs Chart. You might want to write these down in a place you will see them regularly. Connect with the ‘energy’ of the Need. How would it feel in your body if it was fulfilled? Don’t overthink this part of the practice. Just take time throughout your day to lean into the awareness of the ‘energy’ of the Need. Lean into the awareness itself.
Downloadable PDF File — Feelings and Need chart
What are your reflections on Forgiveness? Please leave a comment below.