In the Temple of Forgiveness

I believe it is impossible to live a happy life if one nourishes resentment for some harm done to oneself….. On the other hand, we become incapable of resentment when we have understood that everyone is at every moment at their highest level of consciousness. We then live in deep peace and quiet joy.
I bless myself in my ability to understand that forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts I could ever make to myself and to the world.
I bless myself in my understanding that when I refuse to forgive, I make an unconscious choice to suffer.
Excerpt from a blessing for forgiveness by Pierre Pradervand

No matter what happens, we can always return to the greatness of the heart.  The heart is released whenever we forgive or are forgiven, even in the most painful circumstances.  In the temple of forgiveness, we are reminded of our own goodness. If only we could help each other build temples of forgiveness instead of prisons. We can, in our own hearts.  No matter how extreme the circumstances, a transformation of the heart is possible.

Once, on the train from Washington to Philadelphia, I found myself seated next to an African-American man who ran a rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders in the District of Columbia. Most of the youths he worked with were gang members who had committed homicide. One 14-year old boy on his program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly ad him and stated, “I’m going to kill you. “Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.

After the first half year, the mother of the slain child went to visit the killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left, she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step-by-step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts. Near the end of this three-year sentence, she asked him what he would be doing. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to set him up with a job at a friend’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home.

For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job. Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited. Then she started.

“Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?”

“I sure do, ma’am,” he replied.

“Well, I did," she went on. “I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason to remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That got you the job and let you live here in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer is gone, if you’ll stay here, I’ve got room, and I’d like to adopt you if you let me.” And she became the mother of her son’s killer, the mother he never had.

From an article by Jack Kornfield, Kripalu Spring 2016

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