Fred has never particularly liked Gary; in fact some of their differences have been replete with shouting. Currently, Gary’s life is imploding: The IRS has seized his house for taxes, he has developed diabetes which requires the insulin that he cannot afford, and even his cat has run away! While Fred has taken no active part in bringing about Gary’s train-wreck, nonetheless Fred feels a small measure of satisfaction that it has happened… even while he feels that there’s something not quite right in this pleasure. To counter this nagging feeling Fred hauls out memories of how Gary has hurt or offended him, as if these memories are evidence at Gary’s trial, evidence which justify Fred’s unwillingness to forgive, of his unwillingness to let go of his verdict of “guilty!” And yet Fred always comes away from this trotting-out-of-evidence with a sense that there is a sin in there somewhere, a sin he can’t seem to figure out. No matter, he still has NO intention of forgiving Gary!
Memories: We all have them, and sometimes they can drag us back to feelings that are not good for us to re-visit. So many things happen in relationships: Sometimes someone is deliberately rude or hurtful, sometimes things just happen, but no matter how the offense came about, in the end the revisiting of the memory of it hurts our heart all over again. After a while we wonder: Why can’t we become free from these painful memories?!
I knew Martin Ebon, author of around 24 books. He had a slight German accent and always affectionately referred to his wife Chariklia as “Koutsiline”. A few years before his death on February 1st, 2006 we spoke on the phone. He wanted to know, when he came for his next visit to the monastery, if it would be all right that he gave the Abbot a check for “x” dollars. I was astonished by the amount and replied, “That would be fine Martin, but why would you even ask for permission to do this?” He replied, “Well, I had planned on leaving this money for the monastery in my will, but then I thought: Why wait to give the gift until my hands are cold; why not give the gift right now, with warm hands?”
My experience has been that the only way to stop being a hostage to painful memories is to deliberately forgive the offense by refusing to indulge in remembering it; that refusal to remember IS the beginning of forgiveness! The nature of forgiveness is that it is meant to be given away and Martin was right: Why wait until our hands are made cold by death to finally forgive someone? Why not give it NOW with a warm heart?!