Pools of Forgiveness

10 Jun

Ever since I was a little girl and visited Yellowstone National Park with my father, I have been fascinated by hot springs. I remember looking at the strange colors and spewings of the Morning Glory Geyser intrigued. I also recall my first experiences sitting in hot springs. I was a kid, soaking in the hot water in my tiny bikini while looking at all the adults around me also bathing. Some were naked while some wore bathing suits.

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Naked is an interesting way to perceive the experience of sitting in hot, natural spring water that is dense in minerals. When we sit under the stars, soaking in sulfur and other minerals, we start to peel away layers of toxins sitting underneath our skin. We also start to loosen the debris lodged deep in our hearts. Heat and water and minerals create a unique form of purification.

In a way, we become psychologically and energetically naked.

When I think about forgiveness, these hot springs come to mind. We don’t forgive without first feeling anger, which is its own form of hot water. Anger is a sign of self-protection, heightened vulnerability, a need to set boundaries, and a reflection of how deeply we cared about the situation or person that caused us such enormous pain. Anger is not fun to feel but if channeled effectively, over time, it produces its own type of potent healing minerals.

The person who says we need to immediately forgive a profound blow to the heart is a fool. Forgiveness is impossible without first feeling the hurt of the transgression.

Anger creates an interesting dynamic between human beings. I’ve known people who have insisted that anger is essential, yet when expressing this emotion, they were actually emotionally abusive. I’ve also known people who have insisted that anger is the opposite of kindness and therefore should be avoided. Yet these same proponents of “kindness”, were also capable of saying and doing cruel things, all while speaking in a gentle tone of voice. That is the opposite of kindness.

Sometimes a dose of righteous anger, even if delivered in a loud tone, can actually be an act of kindness for ourselves, the relationship, and the other person.

What I find interesting about hot springs is that from heat, they generate healing properties. This is such a perfect analogy for transformation. In order to transform our anger and hurt into forgiveness, we must first heat up our internal lives. As uncomfortable as this process might initially be, it’s what allows us to move through rage.

When my father was dying of pancreatic cancer, I never expressed my anger at him for exploiting and abandoning me. Toyed with as an object of his affection, I was eventually discarded. For fourteen years, he didn’t call me, write me, or reach out to me. This rejection came when I was eighteen and went to college. It came as a shock because for the first eighteen years of my life he told me that he loved me more than anything in the world and would never do anything in the world to hurt me. When I walked into his hospital room after this fourteen year hiatus, he casually said hello and then asked me what type of car I drove. He didn’t ask if I was married, whether or not I had kids, nor what I did for a living. He didn’t tell me how wonderful it was to see me or that he missed me all these years. He didn’t tell me I looked wonderful, nor did he apologize. Ever the good girl, I swallowed any anger, if I was even in touch with it. Instead I felt sorry for him. He looked like a shrunken, shriveled old man who was in pain and was suffering. I showed him nothing but kindness and compassion. I played the role I always played. I forgave him.

But I hadn’t. My rage had never really been expressed.

You can’t really forgive or let go until you feel the rage. Only then, in the heat of it all, can you soak in the pools of forgiveness. Only then can you emerge, shimmering in the light, with beads of water and a smile on your face.

 

 

 

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