Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Forgiveness and Guilt from One Faith to Another

For me spring is about freedom and life.  It's about energy and love.  My honoring the season change involves exercises like fairy joy bubbles, taking lots of photos of seasons' change, watching the progression of flowers' growth and learning something new about local flora and growing, if I wasn't moving yet again shortly I would be halfway through growing some flowers herbs and veges.  I go outside for walks and being grateful and I will be coloring eggs.  These are all my expressions of love and joy and being absolutely thrilled for the spring.  I don't think I can begin to put into words how sacred and joyful spring is. 

Now for Catholics, spring/Easter season (because nothing is supposed to be related to weather) is far more complex.  In my mother's case spring brings up a lot of concerns regarding guilt, forgiveness, and sin.  I suppose it's only natural, she's fasting right now in the lenten season.   She's meant to consider Jesus' sacrafice, and I know that Good Friday, the day Jesus was on the cross, has always been particularly hard for her.

As a child, I can remember being very confused over Good Friday.  My mother always took us out of school, whether we had the day off or not, which fluctuated.  We always colored eggs and baked sweet bread we would wrap around the eggs.  We would always refrain from using technology from the hours of 2-4 because apparently that's when Jesus was on the cross and you should spend time in quiet reflection. 

Everything about the time seemed so muddled to me.  Because this horrible violence is happening to the savior at our hands for our sins, but there's this deep excitement because on Sunday Easter is happening soon.  Without this horrible violence and betrayal there would be no miracle.  It's still very confusing to me, though thankfully no longer as painful.  Wouldn't the deeper miracle have been for the people to recognize Jesus and to save and protect him?  What could he have done with all that power if he didn't have to rise from the dead?  If he came for peace and a better world then how does this violence do anything but perpetuate what is wrong in our world?

It is a pleasure to me to not have to ask those kind of questions or have this worry that there is something deeply wrong with me.  I was horrified by so many aspects of Catholicism and not able to work through it the way other followers seemed.  I felt like I was bad and wrong twice, once for what happened and again for not being on the same page as other Catholics. 

My mom is still Catholic, we inevitably end up discussing guilt and forgiveness.  One thing she said to me that really struck me to core to our discussion was: "To be really and truly sorry and able to repent means that you won't do those actions and more.  So if you repeat the same actions again, it means you weren't really sorry and couldn't really be forgiven in confession."

To me, and I have no doctrine to back it up, we are most sorry for things we can not help.  I feel guilty and sorry that I have so much while others have nothing.  But what's the real solution to that, how do I "not do that again" or make that right?  Do I give up my position of privilege and join other people who are homeless?  How does that help?

I feel awful that two things I value most, my creative ambitions and my relationships with my family clash.  Each suffers from my experience with the other.  When I'm with my family, I think of the writing or the book assembly I could be doing.  When I'm working on my projects, I think about how long it's been since I've spoken to my family, but if I stop and have a word with them, how they will draw me away from the work I'm doing.  I feel torn between the two, and as if I must sacrifice or compromise one for the other.

I often feel morally compromised at my job, unable to give the best advice because it may look like the boss trying to dictate an employees affairs when really all I want to do is give the best advice in the most straight forward way.  To protect my own interests I stay silent, but it's not genuine to who I am or the most I'd like to give people.

I need/want/hope for compassion and understanding regarding these struggles and others like these the most.  Am I going to keep having these struggles?  Of course, the only way I know how to stop these struggles is to stop living.  That doesn't make me feel less sorry about them, or less like there is a sense of wrongness in our society that these are some of the choices and compromises we make. 

I might wish that if I were sorry for it, I'd be able to fix it or stop it, but that's not always my experience.  I think part of why my mother struggles so much is even though that's her doctrine, it's not her experience?  I think that's why each year we have the same hurt sad conversation.

 Beyond that, to me, forgiveness/compassion is a choice that we have to make to ease others and ourselves despite the fact that there may be nothing they can do to ameliorate of make the situation right.   We are all only human individuals, and singularly we can only do so much.  I think meeting people with both compassion and realism is needed to make the world a better place.  We don't have to allow wrong actions or be silent in wrong actions, but we need to see a whole picture of a person along with realistically what we can expect or do.  

 This idea that we can change everything that's wrong in our lives or ourselves is a great tool to critically look at every option we have and all possible solutions and I do think we need to be thorough in our search for self improvement.  On the other side we need to respect where each person may be and that we are imperfect beings in an imperfect world.  We would like not to repeat the same wrongs but sometimes, even when it's avoidable we're going to make the same mistakes.  It's more about what you as a person do next, than the kind of mistake you made to start.

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