is the little known partner for that most contested of Catholic sacraments – Penance aka Confession. The official name is Penance and Reconciliation. I’ve had my ups and downs with the rights and wrongs of this dogma. Admittedly, I’ve found it quite cathartic at times and when compared to the cost of a visit to a therapist it’s a no brainer really. Even so, I only think of making the effort at Lent and Advent.
There is a more implicit part to this reconciliation thing, never mind being forgiven for one’s trespasses, there’s others’ trespasses against us.
Forgiving others – it’s not a onetime thing is it? Just when I think I’m done and dusted with that THING that THAT PERSON did to me, the master bartender within me concocts a cocktail of anger, pain and revenge so powerful that I start to consider hiring a hitman. I live next door to a criminal lawyer and she told me that… – but I digress.
Forgiveness is a process.
Three plus years into desert living, as each new wave of recruits arrives to my organization and I help some through the shock and shit–ti-ness, my feelings of betrayal return, dragging me, often willingly, into the quagmire of self-pity.
At these times, I bore everyone around me with a recounting of my tales of woe. An uninitiated friend tried to help me reframe the experience,
‘Why do you think your employers did not tell you what you consider to be the truth?’
‘To get me here. Maybe they thought that if they told me all the details, I would not have come. But, I would still have come but with much more realistic expectations.’
‘So their intention was good.’
“Hmm,’ I said, realizing but wanting to be slow to change my stance.
‘Have you ever done something similar?’
‘Couldn’t possibly comment.’
Several weeks after this conversation, Mandela passed. The news channels compete to find unique insights from this inspirational life but there are several recurring themes of which reconciliation is one.
And I have an Archimedes moment: I know that the legacy I am claiming from Mandela is the courage to continue to choose reconciliation.
What is Mandela’s legacy to you?