I have been forgiven and I have forgiven. As of today I have no one left to forgive.
I have also reconciled with others, though there are some I will never be reconciled to. I wish that list were shorter, but it cannot be. For reconciliation is not forgiveness.
Forgiveness is that which is commanded by the world’s faiths and philosophies. It is also always possible and should be expected of another person. It involves the very real process of letting go of a grudge or hate and coming to the point of wishing someone who has harmed you well. It is the place where no accounting is made of the hurt inflicted by another.
The greater thing is reconciliation. It is the place where hurt and harm is not only stricken from the books, but a relationship is reborn. There is no religion or philosophy that argues for its necessity, though it is their preference. It is also the reason that on one’s deathbed, the best they can hope for is forgiveness, for reconciliation can only be had in the living of life with another person.
One need find no joy in forgiveness other than the joy of wishing others well. In reconciliation the joy is apparent. In forgiveness, no words need be spoken for it is only an internal act. By nature reconciliation is external and the words spoken may need to be many. One alone has the power to forgive; it takes two or more to reconcile.
In some ways, forgiveness is enough. It breaks down hate and harm. What it does not do is bring relationship. By nature forgiveness may never be free of hurt, though the economy of right and wrong is gone. Reconciliation promises not only this, but in the days ahead we may have a life with another. Forgiveness should come quickly, but not too much so and once had the act is done, but reconciliation last a lifetime for it builds on lives that had already been inhabited by kindness and perhaps even love.
Forgiveness is enough in life. It is all that is required of us. Reconciliation is never required for relationship cannot be mandated. In some ways forgiveness without reconciliation is sad, but often necessary for some relationships can never be mended and it is best that many are not. One should never hold fast to the hate and lack of joy produced by the failure to forgive, but one also need not be required to reinvent those joys in the relationships that come of reconciliation. To live life on the most basic level, it is enough to forgive. To live life fully in relationship, forgiveness is not enough.
Image: The Statue of Reconciliation, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, Rebecca Kenisson, GFDL and Creative Commons license.