Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on Forgiveness....

 I think we all like to think of ourselves as forgiving people. We think of the times a spouse may have hurt our feelings and we let it go to "keep the peace". Or perhaps a time when a co-worker made an error that made our job harder, and we forgave them for it, agreeing that we all make mistakes from time to time. Some things are easier to forgive than others, of course, and I think we would all agree it's easier to forgive people we like than it is to forgive people we dislike.

But I've recently discovered something interesting about forgiveness that has me pondering once again. I believe that forgiveness is an aspect of Love, and since Love has been the centerpoint of my life, I have found myself forgiving a lot of hurtful things over the years. In the past I have forgiven hitting, cheating, threatening my life, stealing, lying, and seriously injuring my body. More recently I have forgiven teenage drivers for rear-ending my jeep while I was at a standstill at a red light, despite the damage they caused....twice....sending them on their way with a request to "Pay it forward."  I have forgiven people who don't even know me for being rude and cruel because they think they know something "about" me...when they really don't know anything. I have forgiven people for assuming things about who I am and what I'm doing...and why. And I have forgiven people for making my life difficult by sabotaging my efforts to earn a living.

Love and forgiveness are so important to me that I've noticed over the years that it has become a habit, a natural "first response" to the things people do to me, and gradually the old version of me; the one that would respond with outrage to a perceived wrong, has vanished and been replaced by a version of me that just smiles and tries to be nice in the face of other people's hurtful behavior.

Two weeks ago my little dogs became ill. India moreso than Killer. At first, I thought that India had swallowed some non-food object that was causing an intestinal blockage so I tried to help her by massaging her tummy and feeding her soft food. But on the 4th day she went into shock, staggering like a drunkard and her tongue white as snow, so I took her to see a Veterinarian and discovered she had been poisoned.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I keep close tabs on my dogs and am very protective of them. I see to it their environment is safe and poison free, so you can imagine how stunned I was when I learned my dogs had been poisoned. I was particularly shaken by the fact they had been poisoned just a few days after I had written and posted a blog about how much I appreciate them. Of course, I have no way of knowing who does and doesn't read my blog, and my address isn't posted anywhere on the blog, but the coincidental timing was disconcerting none the less.

In the days since then I have wracked my brain trying to figure out who would be so cruel as to poison these two sweet, loving, and harmless dogs....and "why?" I only went out of my way to share that blog post with one person and I know with absolute certainty that *he* would not poison them, so it's been a puzzle to me.

With each passing day, Killer has grown stronger and stronger; clearly making a full recovery, while India has begun to show signs of severe kidney damage and I've had to face the reality that I may be forced to end her suffering in the not so distant future. It's tearing me apart from the inside out, my heart breaking for her, as I agonize over what possible "wrong" I could have done to someone that they would feel the need to strike back in such a cruel way.

And yet, I feel no anger, no hatred, no need for vengence. It's as if I have crossed some barrier along the way and achieved a capacity for forgiveness I did not even know I was capable of. And yet, I feel this inexplicable guilt about not being angry and vengeful. I feel that I *should* be combing the streets, searching for the culprit so that I can rain furious wrath and punishment on his or her head. And I find myself wondering about that. Why don't I feel the need to avenge my little dogs? Why do I feel guilty about being able to forgive someone who is clearly nothing more than a cruel and spineless coward? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to feel guilty about being forgiving.

I don't know what to think about that.