The Heart of the Matter
January 21, 2020
Real Forgiveness


"Forgiveness," it has been said, "is the fragrance flowers give off when they have been trampled on" -- an ennobling sentiment, for sure, though, of course, much easier said than done. Who of us hasn't been hurt, wounded, or betrayed by another in this life? Who of us doesn't have someone we need to forgive? And who of us, no matter how loving we think we are, couldn't use a little nudge to help us on our way?

Allow me to be more specific.

The year is 1988 and I am sitting in an audience of 10,000 people in the Miami Beach Convention Center -- many of whom had flown from very long distances to listen to Prem Rawat hold forth. The occasion? "Holi" -- a celebrational event in honor of a sacred festival from Prem's home country, India.

Sitting in my seat, I am the proverbial happy camper, soaking it all up, when I hear him say these words I will never forget: "Holi is such a time when even the mothers of sons who have been murdered forgive the murderers of their sons."

I am stunned. Nailed to the back of my seat. Penetrated to the core of my being. In the ten seconds it takes him to speak those words, I know exactly what I need to do. HERE, NOW, TODAY -- my time to forgive someone I'd been holding a major grudge against for the past 10 years -- someone I knew was very likely in the hall, as well.

And then, without missing a beat, Prem announces there will be a 30-minute intermission -- a chance for everyone to do what they needed to do before the program resumed.

My first thought? "How am I possibly going to find this guy? There are 10,000 people in the hall!"

But this was not the time to calculate. This was the time to act. So I stand up, turn around, walk up the aisle, and enter the lobby. The FIRST person I see is the person I know I need to forgive. The FIRST person. Not the second. Not the fifth. Not the tenth. The FIRST person.

An extra spring in my step, I begin moving boldly in his direction. He sees me coming, turns around, and quickly walks away. At least I THINK he sees me. Maybe he didn't see me. I don't really know, for sure. What I DO know is that I had just experienced true forgiveness from the bottom of my heart. Gone was the weight I'd been carrying around for years. Gone was the knot in my stomach. Gone were all those dark thoughts. In their place? Wide open space, lightness, freedom, and relief.

It is now 31 years later and I can still hear Prem's words reverberating within me: "Holi is such a time where even the mothers of sons who were murdered forgive the murderers of their sons."

That singular, exquisite sentence continues to work its magic inside me. I am still drinking from its healing waters -- still doing what I can to LIVE those words, not just remember them -- especially when I feel slighted or offended by another. Easy? No. Possible? Yes.

Would I have had the same response to those words if someone other than Prem had uttered them that day? I don't really know. What I DO know is this: Prem Rawat spoke those words and they found their way inside me -- words, like keys, that opened a locked door in a prison I had unknowingly entered years before. But not just opened the door -- INSPIRED me to walk through the opening and turn those words into action.

Imagine having someone like this in your life -- someone who has the knack for saying just the right thing at the right time in the right way to lighten your load. Wow.

Who might YOU need to forgive? What old hurt, wound, or betrayal is it time for YOU to let go of? And what can YOU do, this week, to forgive whoever it is that needs to be forgiven?

Prem on forgiveness
Digital art: Evelyne Pouget

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at January 21, 2020 05:18 PM

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