Forgiveness is letting go of the hope for a different past.
This pithy saying is a takeaway from an orientation talk at a rehab center many moons ago. It somehow made it through my muddy thought processes at the time, being one of those moments of clarity when I felt I was face to face with wisdom. Something to truly hang one’s hat on. I still see it that way.
The world of recovery is filled with slogans, enough to last a person their entire life without ever having to repeat one. They are all over the walls of AA meeting rooms, on the pages of the books and bumper stickers, etc. Some of them raised my gorge when I first laid eyes on them and still do. Some of them provoked tears of relief and have that power today.
Are you ready for a Sunday morning metaphor? When you are drowning in a rapids, as most addicts are, these slogans are branches floating by that you can grab onto for a moment’s rest from the need to fight the current continuously.
Most of the aphorisms are perfectly applicable to people’s lives who are not addicts, which is what you might expect since these sayings are drawn from all of literature.
Early on in AA, I began to feel a little sorry for people who weren’t addicted, because there was so much good stuff to learn in the world of recovery. The only problem was that you had to be a soggy mess in danger of losing your life to get through the door, and being so afraid of drowning that you were willing to do the hard work of learning, of letting go.
But there are really marvelous resources out there for us all, and we all have free access to them.
So this year’s answer to the question – What did you give up for Lent? – will hopefully not be repeated in our lifetimes.
I have recognized a feeling just this morning, and that is survivor guilt. There is a typhoon blowing through much of the world, but only the slightest of breezes here in our mountain valley.
Oh, we are doing all the moves along with everyone else – we wear masks, stay six feet apart, make only essential trips away from home, don’t scratch our noses, etc. But there have been so few positive tests in our county, so few hospitalized people, and the single death was just reported this morning. We are a smallish town geographically isolated. Once the ski slopes were closed, there were even fewer reasons to come this way in the wintertime.
It’s likely that there are harder trials still ahead of us, and we will yet be given the opportunity to be tested as our brothers and sisters elsewhere. But right now, we are watching the eastern cities burn while our tin-pot Nero fiddles. We help where we can and however we can.
Daughter Maja related a story to me just yesterday that I am sharing with you with her permission. Adversity is not without its opportunities for grace, in fact, perhaps they stand out more vividly when we are under fire.
I will let Maja tell the story.
It is very common here in Lima to live in an apartment and have doormen as security. Before the State of Emergency, there were 3 doormen in my building and now there is only one: Giovanni. He is here day and night every day, working tirelessly. He keeps us healthy when we leave and return by spraying disinfectant on our feet, giving us hand sanitizer, spraying down the elevator buttons, etc. The other day the hot water went out in my apartment and even though it isn’t his job he came and fixed it!! I tip him exorbitantly whenever possible.
Every time I leave the building to get groceries, I ask him what he needs. He only ever asks for water. I always return with water and a small something else, usually a pre-made meal of some kind like chicken and rice. Today, for some unknown reason, I brought him these items and also a large brownie cake with festive sprinkles.
He told me that today is his birthday and how did I know? I didn’t. He started to cry. I started to cry. We couldn’t hug.
Small gestures to those around us mean a lot.