Earlier this week I went to an abbey for a couple of days for a retreat about forgiveness. I learnt a few things. First of all I learnt that I am utterly, totally and completely terrified of monks. With their long black habits and hoods they looked like Death without his scythe. I spent the days avoiding the monks, which was relatively easy to do as they spend their time doing monkey things. Fr S kept me amused by sending texts telling me what I could imagine the monks to be doing - science experiments, going to the moon etc.
I also rediscovered that I'm not very good at dealing with silence. I need noise, bustle etc etc to fill in the space in my head where the nasties live. Without that I struggle. I'm very glad it wasn't a silent retreat because I would have gone mad.
Forgiveness is an issue for me. It's very clear that as a Christian I am called to forgive in the same way that God forgives me. I also struggle with the bit about God forgiving me but never mind. I would like to be able to forgive my parents, social services and all the broken things. I see the process of therapy as part of that, to forgive I need to understand and to do that I need therapy.
Forgiveness is difficult. We discussed that it is an act of will and it's between me and God and nothing to do with the people that fucked me over (of course this was put much more politely but then I'm a horribly profane person - not swearing for two days was hard!). We also discussed how hard it was and how it can need to be a repeated thing over and over again before we finally manage.
While on the retreat two things really jumped out at me. The first was when we were meditating on the Prodigal Son. I know a lot of my readers aren't Christian but I think the story is fairly familiar, if not here it is. While meditating on it I became very sad because I realised that I would never be in that position, that my father would never come running to meet me, hugging me and having a massive party. I know in the parable the father is God but that was what struck me. By pretending that maybe one day my father and I will be reconciled I am using fantasy to protect myself from the reality of my situation.
At one point the speaker was talking about love. He said that love was like water, you could hold out your hands and water could be poured into them and held but you could never reach into a bowl of water and grab some. That really struck home. How much of my life have I spent in a futile attempt to grab and hold my parent's love? I should just accept the love that those people in my love pour into my hands freely and be delighted in that instead of trying to grab futilely at that which I cannot have.
I do need to forgive. At the moment I have to accept that wanting to want to forgive is all I can do, and in the future hopefully God will help me to move forward. Not forgiving is a bad thing for me because it keeps me in a position where I am tied to my parents, where I haven't let go. It also contributes to the madness and the general stress in my life. I need huge piles of grace to help me.
I'm sorry if this post is too religious for the more heathen of my readers, but frankly if my pathetic attempts at occaisionally talking about a God I don't understand and struggle to contemplate hasn't converted you to Bible thumping believers by now there's no hope for you ;) I just wanted to write about what I'm thinking at the moment.