“Say you’re sorry!” These words echo inside of me as if it were yesterday. They were words that my dad would yell at us, when my sisters and I would fight. I trust that he had good intentions. This is the best that he could do with teaching us about conflict resolution. If I knew what was good for me, I knew that I would have to utter those words. So, out they came. “Msorry.” There. I got it out. As quickly as I could, though it really held no meaning for me. My relationship with being sorry and forgiveness has been a challenging one. One might think that after all of these decades, I would have it worked out. I continue to work on it.
At a gathering of members of Kol Hai, a community of Jewish Renewal, our leader, Shir Yaakov spoke of this special time of year. In preparing for the High Holy Days, there is a time to pause, and reflect. It occurs the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. Selichot is the name of the service. Forgiveness is the theme. Beautiful melodies and sincere words of gratitude were shared at this late night get together. Then Shir spoke of forgiveness. “Do we need to ask for someone’s forgiveness? Have we done something hurtful this past year? Whom do we need to forgive? What about ourselves? This is the time.”
As Shir spoke, I did an inventory of the year. Like a rolodex, my mind was scanning the people close to me and not so close. Did I hurt anyone? Who has hurt me? As best as I can remember, I had offered apologies to people I may have hurt during the year. My apologies have come a long way since those I whispered to my sisters.
Shir was gently strumming his guitar and humming beautiful tunes. It was around that time that I welled up. Tears started rolling. Maya. She is the one that I have not yet forgiven. This has been quite troubling to me. What does it mean to forgive? Forgiveness, forgiving someone, forgiving Maya, is an offering of acceptance. My inner voice is tangling two phrases together. “I forgive you,” is another way to say, “I accept you for your action.” Forgiving Maya for making a fatal choice would be accepting this choice.
This is tricky. On a certain level, I am accepting life without Maya. After all, I am still here. I am living in my day to day (which at times, I honestly think is remarkable). However, I have not accepted Maya’s mistake. I have not forgiven her. I fear that forgiveness, acceptance of this nature, may mean being at peace with this. I do not have it in me now to hold that peace.
I am spinning with this one. I am searching. I welcome your thoughts and feelings. What does forgiving someone mean to you? If sharing a comment in this public post is uncomfortable for you, I understand. If you would like to contact me another way with your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.
Wishing you a sweet and healthy New Year. Shana Tova.