Saturday, January 30, 2010

Forgiveness

In chapter 11 of Wendy Wilson Greer's book of writings from Henri Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing, Nouwen writes on forgiveness. This is something I have always sucked at - indeed, probably something most of us suck at. And I probably struggle as much with receiving it as I do with giving it. Though I'm not sure we actually "receive" forgiveness from God, as much as we merely need to "accept" it. Has it not already been given? Anyway... some tidbits from the book:
  • "Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being God - for not fulfilling all my needs. I, too, must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people's needs."
  • "Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly" Ah, nice.
  • On 154 he says, "The first thing we are called to do when we think of others as our enemies is to pray fro them." Then later... "There is probably no prayer as powerful as the prayer for our enemies. But it is also the most difficult prayer since it is most contrary to our impulses. This explains why some saints consider prayer for our enemies the main criterion of holiness."
  • "Forgiveness has two qualities: one is to allow yourself to be forgiven, and the other is to forgive others. The first quality is harder than the second. To allow yourself to be forgiven puts you in a dependency situation. If someone says to me, 'I want to forgive you for something,' I may say back, 'But I didn't do anything. I don't need forgiveness. Get out of my life.' It's very important that we acknowledge that we are not fulfilling other people's needs and that we need to be forgiven. There is great resistance to that. We come from a culture that is terribly damaged in this area. We find it hard to forgive or ask to be forgiven... It's not just individuals who need to forgive and be forgiven. We all need to be forgiven. We ask each other to put ourselved in that vulnerable position - and that's when community can be created."
  • "The demons lose their power when we confess that we have been in their clutches. The more deeply we confess, the more we will experience the forgiving love of God - and the more deeply we will realize how much more we have to confess. Community life encourages this confession of our demons and our enchantment with them, so that the love of God can reveal itself. Only in confession will the Good News be revealed to us, as the New Testament with its focus on sinners makes clear."