Saturday, February 9, 2013

Season of Reconciliation

True forgiveness is when you can say "thank you for that experience".
-Oprah Winfrey

When I developed the schedule for my one-year experiment to be more childlike- I thought I was somewhat randomly assigning different childlike qualities to each month. Of course, it made sense to put childlike curiosity in September for back to school time. It was also logical to dedicate December to the study of childlike faith and focus on gratitude in November. But  I had no idea last May when I first conceived of this blog idea that there was any significance to dedicating February to childlike innocence until now.

I never really thought of the meaning of innocence, which by definition means lack of guilt. I also didn’t give much thought to the fact that in recent weeks, the issue of guilt and shame  started popping up in my life. I found it coincidental that people “just happened” to be recommending books about forgiveness. Today when I finished reading one of those recommended books “Radical Self Forgiveness” in an Asian nail salon while getting a pedicure, I happened to look up and see a Catholic calendar declaring February “The Season of Reconciliation”. Before the trip to the salon this morning, I was thinking about what forgiveness really means. When I went to wash my hands in the hotel bathroom, the soap wrapper just happened to have only one word in black and white printed on it: purity.

If anything, I have learned over the past eight months of this blog that as each month’s topic approaches, books, people and circumstances seem to reinforce the life lesson that I needed to learn. What I am also learning is that forgiveness or having a pure heart may be the hardest and most liberating lesson of all.

The term “season of reconciliation” is a phrase used to describe lent. Having a mostly secular word view, I have always thought of lent as a time when certain religions fast and sacrifice.  But today I learned lent literally translated means Spring, a hopeful time for new beginnings and new life. In this thoughtful article, one priest describes lent as a time that has little to do with guilt and punishment and more to do with making whole whatever relationships may be broken. 

What is broken may be your relationship with God, a family member or even with yourself. In Colin Tipping’s book, Radical Self Forgiveness, Tipping makes a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness only requires a forgiver. Reconciliation requires the injured and the injurer to want to work it out. If you are working on self forgiveness, reconciling with yourself gets a little trickier. You have to identify different parts of yourself. The book inspires a great deal of introspection. Tipping believes everyone’s purpose for being born on Earth is to journey closer to "oneness"  with God or Divine Intelligence. He makes a compelling case that even the most painful experiences are valuable life lessons. The author shifts from victim consciousness to leading the reader to accept that whatever is causing heartache is likely something that we chose for our own spiritual growth. If you can get your head and heart around that belief, than forgiveness becomes unnecessary as there is nothing to forgive. There are only lessons to learn. Finally, Tipping offers some helpful techniques for transforming the prison bars of guilt, shame and resentment into the keys of freedom known as unconditional love, gratitude and peace.

If there something that is broken in your life that you would like to reconcile? 

For today's "Sky's the Limit" on what you can learn: Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 13th) and runs through Easter.  Other than the "Season of Reconciliation", it is also known as the season of penance, reflection and fasting as Christians prepare for Christ's resurrection which gives followers redemption from sin. Lent is supposed to last for forty days in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before Jesus began his public ministry.

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