Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Deeper Exploration into Reconciliation

         I've been spending a great deal of time over the last few years thinking about reconciliation.  I believe deeply in searching for, creating, and working towards reconciliation.  I believe that we are called to move towards wholeness, and that doesn't just mean as individuals, but as a people.  I believe the anger, hatred and fear that exists between people tears us apart, not just between people, but within our very souls.  We forgive so that we can let go of anger, hatred, fear, and pain and find peace. We make amends so that we can release the heavy and debilitating burdens of guilt and shame. We heal relationships because when we hang on to pain we cannot find peace within or without. Peace comes from grace, but also I believe we reach out, own and claim grace as we make peace, not only with God and with ourselves, but with all of those around us.  We cannot be at peace as long as there are tears (rips) within us or between us.  We cannot fully embrace grace as long as we cannot own our own parts, make amends, and extend forgiveness to others and to ourselves.  We cannot be bearers of peace, grace, and their overarching parent, Love, as long as we are consumed inside with anger, hate, pain, shame, guilt or fear. And when we are not reconciled in our personal relationships, what hope do we possibly have of being reconcilers in the world?  How can we carry peace to a community when in our personal lives we are so torn? When our insides look like this:
how can we possibly hope to convey and be bearers of this?:

     My deepest heroes are people of peace: Mr. Rogers, Ben Weir, MLK, Don Carroll, Carol Creek, Jimmy Carter, Richard Rohr, Cyndi Sneeringer.  You may not know all of these people, but they are all people who embodied/embody peace, grace and love.  Their very presence makes a room feel lighter, more hopeful, more "holy". Their spirits are calming, and when I am with them in any way (with their writings, their words, or in their presence), I find myself often moved to a place of tears, a place of release, a place of praying with all of my being for the world's wholeness and reconciliation. They model for me who I want to be.  They show me a way that is better than who I currently am.  
      And yet, in the face of all of this, I am aware that there are some relationships that simply cannot be reconciled. There are some people who do not want reconciliation. There are other people who struggle with specific mental illnesses that do not allow them to create space for reconciliation. There are people who cannot be self-reflective and therefore cannot do the work of remorse, repentence, asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness - all of which is truly necessary for reconciliation. There are barriers sometimes of time, distance, situation, even death. And sometimes there are people who are simply toxic for us for a myriad of reasons that make that reaching out, that crossing of the barriers, dangerous - for the other as well as for ourselves.  
      I struggle with this. I want reconciliation to always be possible. As I said, I believe in wholeness, in healing, in crossing boundaries. I believe in grace and peace. What, then, does a person who wants with her whole being for the world to find peace, to be reconciled - what does that person do with the reality that sometimes it just simply is not possible? I asked some of the wise people in my life, those people of peace, "How do you believe in reconciliation when you can see situations in which it appears impossible?" 
      "It is ALWAYS possible," was the answer that was returned.  But also, "It is possible within yourself, it is possible with God, it is possible with the universe.  But it is not always helpful or possible to do this directly with the other. Most of the time it is. But with a few it just isn't.  It is so important to accept this. There are people we cannot and/or should not connect with. There are people we cannot reach and people we cannot help. We are human, and because of that, we have limits and limitations. And others have those limits and limitations too. Only with acceptance of this reality of what it is to be human can God create the forgiveness, the healing and the reconciliation within each of us."
      I think about the 12-step program necessity of making amends wherever possible.  It is crucial to healing that we do this. And I have wondered if we aren't making excuses to avoid the hard work when we choose not to seek out reconciliation. Part of truly reconciling, even if it is just within ourselves, is to ask ourselves and to be able to answer honestly that we have done what we could, as well as then turning it over to God or the Universe or whatever you understand to be bigger than yourself. 
      This journey that we are on is not a smooth or easy one.  But one day at a time, one step at a time, one relationship at a time, we can learn to find peace even when the answers are not what we want or expect, either of the world or of ourselves. I believe the first step in becoming the people we strive to be is simply to accept our humanity. And to seek to offer and accept grace and forgiveness in the face of limits and limitations, not only to others, but to ourselves as well.