Lent Mini Retreats, Week 1

Forgiveness

Day 1

“Because forgiveness is like this: a room can be dank because you have closed the windows, you’ve closed the curtains.  But the sun is shining outside, and the air is fresh outside.  In order to get that fresh air, you have to get up and draw the curtains apart.”  Desmond Tutu

For Today:

What are the parts of your life where you need to “draw the curtains apart?”  Ask for the courage to take action.

Day 2

“The process of forgiveness – indeed, the chief reason for forgiveness – is selfish.  The reason to forgive others is not for their sake.  They are not likely to know that they need to be forgiven.  They’re not likely to remember their offense.  They are likely to say, ‘You just made it up.’  They may even be dead.  The reason to forgive is for our own sake.  For our own health.  Because beyond that point needed for healing, if we hold on to our anger, we stop growing and our souls begin to shrivel.” M. Scott Peck

For Today:

Think of a time when holding on to something made your life miserable.  Are there parts of life that you still need to let go of in order to heal?  Name them.  Picture them being released into the air, or set on a river, and floating away.

Day 3

When I was about 10 years old, a member of our church was telling me about the swimming pool at his house, and then told me I was welcome to use it anytime.

So later that day, I informed my mom that Mr. Ord told me I could come over to use his swimming pool that afternoon.

We went over to the house, but no one was home.  So we went into the back where the pool was, I started swimming, and my mom lounged on a chair and started reading a magazine. 

The Ords eventually came home, came to the back yard, and were quite surprised to see us on their property.  What I didn’t know was that “You can use it anytime” still meant that you should clear it with the owner.  I had apparently forgotten to give my mom some of the important details.

My mom gave me quite a bit of grief on the way home - she was both embarrassed and angry. Yet later that day, I knew she had forgiven me and moved on.  I guess that's what happens when you love someone, and you remember that they're only ten years old.

For Today:

Recall a time when you knew you were forgiven.  How did that feel?  Think of how others feel when we offer them forgiveness. 

Day 4

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly.   The hard truth is that all people love poorly.  We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour, increasingly.  This is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”  Henri Nouwen

For Today:

Think of the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer: “…and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”  It’s been said that one of the most frightening phrases in scripture is: “As we…”  How easy is it for you to forgive?  Picture the people you need to forgive, and attempt to hold them in love.

Day 5

 “The day the child realizes that all are adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.”  Alden Nowlan

For Today:

Pray for the ability to be gentle with yourself, and to forgive the pieces of life that haunt you.

Day 6

“There is a kind of circular, repetitive quality to these [blaming games] that is hard to interrupt.”

One spouse nags because the other seems to have a shell up all the time.  This spouse claims to have a shell up because the other is always nagging.

The psychiatrist Eric Berne stated the obvious but necessary when ‘he said that the only way to stop a game is to stop.  That sounds simple, but in fact it is extremely difficult.’

[It’s like playing Monopoly.]

You can be sitting there and saying, ‘You know, this is a really stupid game.  We’ve been playing it for four hours now…I’ve got many better things I ought to be doing.’  But then you pass Go and say, ‘Give me my two hundred dollars.’

No matter how much you might complain about it, as long as you keep collecting your two hundred dollars when you pass Go, the game goes on.  And if it is a two-player game, it can go on forever unless one player gets up and says, ‘I’m not playing anymore.’

The only way to stop a Blaming Game is called forgiveness.  That is precisely what forgiveness is: the process of stopping, of ending, the Blaming Game.  And it is tough.”    M. Scott Peck

For Today:

Are there situations in your life, or people, where the Blaming Game continues to go on and on?  Pray for the courage to help bring this to an end.

Day 7

“Life appears to me too short to be spent nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”  Charlotte Bronte

For Today:

Remember that Charlotte is right, and ask for the strength to live a life of forgiveness.