6 of Coins: Forgiveness, it's in you to give
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2005
"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matthew 5: 39
"Nobody forgets where he buried the hatchet.” Frank McKinney Hubbard
"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." John F. Kennedy
"We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends." Sir Francis Bacon
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Mahatma Gandhi
"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." Thomas Szasz "The Second Sin"
Forgiveness is a word we often hear and even speak without really knowing what it means. Forgiveness is not only about pacifism and non-violence, it is a complex and uniquely personal aspect of our soul, conscience and our consciousness. It is a reflection of the capacity of our soul to let go, as much as possible, of old wounds, old rage, grievances and transgressions inflicted upon us by others. Forgiveness allows us to quit punishing ourselves for mistakes we have made in the past and our shortcomings as humans, being.
The 6 of Coins in the Tarot, often depicts a man meeting out coins to people standing or kneeling at his feet. They are both offering and asking him for something. His gesture and demeanour express compassion and assessment. Often there is a set of scales sitting in balance depicted in the imagery . Usually this card is interpreted as a card of giving and receiving charity but, to me, it speaks of asking for and receiving forgiveness. One can apologize for a transgression but this is only one part of achieving forgiveness. Forgiveness and mercy are important parts of our creative life and the life we wish to create. Forgiveness is not a middle of the road kind of decision, if you cannot entertain the idea of forgiveness towards someone who has wronged you, even for 5 minutes, you risk being consumed by anger, impotent rage, vengeance and your own bitterness. It takes a lot of energy to hate.
"The hatred you are carrying is a live coal in your heart - far more damaging to yourself than to them." Lawana Blackwell "The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark"
"Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were." Cherie Carter-Scott "If Love Is a Game, These Are the Rules"
In her seminal work, "Women Who Run with the Wolves', Clarissa Pinkola Estes offers a blueprint for the aspects of forgiveness. The first aspect or stage of forgiveness is to forego - to leave it alone. The second, to forebear - to abstain from punishing. The third, to forget - to aver from memory, to refuse to dwell and the fourth, to forgive - to abandon the debt. We need to take a vacation from the transgression that was inflicted upon us and give ourselves permission to focus on more positive aspects of our life. We then need to refocus our emotions from the anger, rage or hostility we feel and remember to let our grace, dignity and our compassion have a say in the matter. Her concept of forgetting is to loosen your grip on memory so that negative events can recede to the background for a while.
We have to make the conscious choice not to recall negative emotions and to let go of obsessing over the details of situations that we cannot change. We need to let the emotions surrounding the painful memories have a rest. When we reach a place where we feel pity for the transgressor, sorrow instead of rage for the event that occurred and we have nothing left to say about it, then we are working towards achieving or granting forgiveness. Sometimes all of this can be achieved without the other party having made any attempt at emotional or any other kind of restitution. Sometimes forgiveness is about giving up the coldness that has settled around our heart and the fire that is burning up our lungs. . We know that we are warm, loving, caring and compassionate people even if we are entitled to our anger and our rage. Forgiveness is choosing to let ourselves go and no longer be bound or held down by what has occurred. Forgiveness allows us the freedom to go forward and to get on with it, even if we will never really get over it.
"Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves." Sidney and Suzanne Simon
Forgiveness does not mean that you will necessarily have a reconciliation with someone - some situations in life are quite beyond that possiblity. Forgiveness has a few requirements: penance, penalty, confession and repentance. If you want forgiveness you have to own what you did, fully and completely. Someone cannot fully forgive until they come to terms with the how seriously they have been wronged and embraced that grief. Your pain is very, very real. The injuring party, by owning what they did, make this impossible to avoid. You cannot force someone to forgive you and you cannot be forced into forgiveness. In some situations, it would be too painful to the injured party for the transgressor to make amends for what they did. There are some things that may never be restored, rehabilitated, redeemed or restituted but this does not mean that somewhere down the road, some level of forgiveness cannot be reached, earned or given.
Forgiveness is not an unattainable commodity. It is not impossible to achieve. Forgiveness cannot change or fix the past but it can empower our future. It enables to you to only hold onto the beauty that was there and to unchain and unfreeze your heart. As Reinhold Niebuhr tells us in his poem below, forgiveness is the final form of love. Forgiveness - it is in you to give.
Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any
immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite a virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.