I am now beginning that stage of retirement characterized by cleaning up and throwing out in order to move ahead. This task is not just physical.
We have given ourselves a year to go through every room and cubbyhole in the house and office and purge. I underestimated the amount of time that would be required for the parallel spiritual exercise.
One of the helpful transition tasks when entering retirement is to review the years past and highlight accomplishments and significant turning points.
However, even in the rear view mirror, the past is not a shining highway. Rocks, boulders, wash-outs, detours, crashes have all been part of the journey.
Those who proclaim “I have no regrets!” live in a different galaxy than I inhabit.
I have lots of regrets both for things done and, particularly, for things not done. As I age, the more that old Gospel song, “It’s Me O Lord Standing in the Need of Prayer” seems like a fitting soundtrack.
I am not morbid or depressed just real.
Last summer Donald Trump was asked whether he ever sought God’s forgiveness. The first two times he responded no to the question.
“I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”
He has since softened his response. “I will be asking for forgiveness, but
I don't reside in the Trump galaxy. Forgiveness, for me, is critical.
In our culture, forgiveness is often downgraded as an unhealthy wallowing in guilt and blame, dismissed as too extreme under the whitewash of “we all have our own journey and our own truth,” or deemed unnecessary because our intentions were not as bad as the outcome.
For me though, forgiveness is the only thing that allows me to remember the past truthfully.
The Christian story frames my view, so forgiveness extends beyond “I’m sorry,” specific actions or even a particular feeling of release (although that is welcome).
Forgiveness is all about relationships just as, not coincidentally, my deepest regrets are about relationships.
Forgiveness is all about relationships just as are our deepest regrets.
And relationships involve repairing brokenness (where possible), healing divisions, reconciling.
These practices go far beyond words; they are part of a craft, a way of living.
Forgiveness is part of the craft of living, involving healing and reconciliation.
I owe this renewed awareness to my son. When drugs consumed his life there were many occasions of “I’m sorry.” But what has made forgiveness now possible and more than tokenism is his disciplined commitment to a new way of life, even, I would say, a more holy way of living, a way in which the terms healing and reconciliation appear with regularity.
I am grateful for the new life which forgiveness brings.