All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.Julian of Norwich, 14th Century Christian mystic & theologian
“All will be well.” I texted this as an afterthought to a close friend in crisis today. It just came out.
The same sentence was written to me at the end of an email the other day, a friend responding to my ruminations about personal challenges. I didn’t love the sign-off at the time. It felt close to dismissive, maybe less of a response than I felt I needed at the time. Ironically, this was three days and three crises ago; when I texted my friend, I’d forgotten it had been said to me. Now, here I am passing my wise friend’s profundity along.
Earlier today I lost it, yelling into the phone at someone who sent something I had asked her not to. Our emails had crossed. Every piece of pent-up frustration from all that is beyond my control went out to her. Projection, shame, anger: all components of what had come at me this week spewed out of my mouth and onto her. I called her later in the day to apologize. I didn’t want her to go home and take it out on the next in line. That’s how it works, especially when we don’t deal with it.
Years ago, when I was in graduate school, an older woman audited one of my writing classes. (She was probably just in her 50s but, 25 years my senior, her experience was unrelatable.)
She raised her hand high when the professor asked who wanted to share their essay. Hers was about a marital fight that ignited a fury in her. It went like this:
She was yelling from the top of the stairs, small dog in her arms. Her husband was down below, standing in the doorway of his den, also screaming. He turned and walked away, slamming the door behind him. Without a thought, she lifted her arms above her head and thrust them downward, sending her beloved family pet crashing to the marble floor, one story below.
What followed was an unbearable mess. The dog, somehow, survived; the marriage did not. This woman choked though tears of shame, guilt, and fear at her own capacity for suffering. She spent the next year nurturing her dog back to health: broken bones, surgeries, damaged organs, and all. All those years later, her dog had recovered, but she had not. Telling the story was healing for her: a step closer to forgiveness.
In order to heal, we must find forgiveness. That starts with honesty and acknowledgment, with ourselves and with others. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says:
“The moment you truly forgive you have reclaimed your power from the mind. Nonforgiveness is the very nature of the mind, just as the mind-made false self, the ego, cannot survive without strife and conflict. The mind cannot forgive. Only you can. Then, you feel the vibrant peace and stillness that emanate from Being. That is why Jesus said, Before you enter the temple, forgive.”
It’s that simple. Foul up, forgive, apologize, start again. Foul up, forgive, apologize, start again. (Ugh.) Foul up, forgive, apologize, start again.
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