“Love is an act of endless forgiveness.” — Peter Ustinov
If love is a verb, than forgiveness is the action verb. It is the highest form of love and the single behavior that most distinguishes our human potential. In an ancient tale from the Kaballah, God told some angels in training that the capacity to forgive is the most excellent gift in the human experience, more essential to the continuity of life than the courage to sacrifice your own life for someone else or enduring the pain of giving life. God explained to the angel ‘Forgiveness is the only reason my creation continues. Without forgiveness, all would disappear in an instantaneous flash.’
Certainly some might suspect this true with a quick glance to the Middle East. What would it look like if the rule of power and force was replaced with a mandate for the strength and courage of forgiveness? The comment by Desmond Tutu that “Forgiveness and reconciliation are not just ethereal, spiritual, other-worldly activities. They have to do with the real world. They are realpolitik, because in a very real sense, without forgiveness, there is no future’ speaks volumes about the state of things.
And yet we don’t have to look that far, for most of us, right in our own homes we struggle with hurts, real and imagined that separate us from the ones we say we love. The smallest of details in sharing a life with someone can easily and often with out notice turn into a story line about the person you love. For years, my disregard of my husband’s need for order and cleanliness and in turn his disgust at my laissez faire approach to house cleaning came to mean everything. We weren’t talking about behaviors where we dramatically differed, instead each housekeeping incident was a personal insult that with just a small push inflamed to fury about the other weak points in our relationship.
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