Ode to the Tree
Forgiveness comes like an October snowfall,
That quietly settles flake by flake on the dead grass,
Covering the barren ground with soft white crystals,
A cool white shroud on summer’s passionate past.
Feelings fall forgotten like frail dead leaves,
Without purpose or life beneath the white;
They are discarded bits of vanity and vitality,
Having fulfilled their purpose on the Tree of Life.
Yet, I remain in shock like the tree,
Stripped of my drive, purpose, and ability to grow,
Thrusting my life blood back down into my roots,
Away from the cold November winds that blow.
But I still live, and I still feel, and I can still dream.
I know that those discarded feelings beneath the pain,
In time shall break down and nurture growth, new life,
When the warm spring sun shines overhead again.
And those feelings like last year’s living leaves,
Have contributed their substance to make me strong;
Their scars have become this year’s branches,
New life made ready for a new season with a new song.
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” (Alexander Pope)
The next step in grounding is to forgive and let go. Forgiving is easy; letting go is very difficult. In order to let go, we have to change the neural pathways in our brain that are often linked to powerful negative emotions that flow through the amygdala which are designed to protect us from harm. Some of our memories, such as rape, abuse, and other forms of violence against our bodies, may even be stored in the nervous system and tissues of the body itself. Whenever our memories are triggered, we may feel it in our heart, in our gut, and perhaps in the parts of the body that have suffered the abuse. We may carry these hurts and insults for a life time and eventually they may become too heavy to bear. We have to let go of these hurts before we can become completely grounded.
Forgiveness is an often misunderstood concept. It is not just saying “I am sorry” and “I forgive you”. These are just words that often come from a position of feeling superior and coercing someone to adjust to our moral and personal standards of behavior. We tend to create a scenario where we are either hero or villain depending upon whether we are perceiving ourselves as being supported or challenged. By focusing on the negative patterns from the past we attract more of the same. The key to healthy living is staying in the present but resolving past issues by adjusting our perceptions of the past. We are not victims unless we choose to be; therefore, the key is to note when we feel like victims and process those feelings until we feel balanced. The process of true forgiveness (clearing up the past so we can live in the present) is to process the pain until we can say “Thank you for giving me this experience.”
There are two kinds of situations that we associate with the traditional concept of forgiveness. The first is the kind that we engage in frequently during our life time. Someone says or does something and the other one feels offended. These are the kinds of things that need to be cleared up so we can maintain healthy relationships. These incidences are not really a case of forgiveness; they are merely a call to resolve the issue. It may have been something that we brought about by our traits, the way we perceive reality. We first master our own perceptions and beliefs. We break the fantasies. We realize that we tend to project our values onto others. We realize that our desire to forgive and be forgiven may be based on a need to judge the other’s actions to justify or explain our own. We don’t let forgiveness become a cover up for what is stored inside. That means we first examine our role in why that happened. Instead we ask ourselves, “What am I doing that is contributing to the behavior?” We then take ownership for our part in the conflict and ask the other person if we can sit down and resolve this issue. The end result should be gratitude for the conflict that has challenged us to grow and expand. Instead of meaningless words like I am sorry and I forgive you, I will love you more should be the hoped for response. Having said that, we must also realize that we may be dealing with unconscious individuals who are genuinely feeling hurt. Sometimes an ‘I am sorry’ is the most appropriate thing to say as long as it is part of a detailed explanation.
The second type of situation involves extreme hurt and pain. We may also have been truly victimized by someone. These cases require true forgiveness. The challenge for us is to forgive ourselves and find our inner truth, to find balance within ourselves. These memories may involve early childhood experiences when we were unable to process what was happening around us. If our environment was full of negative emotion, we typically blamed ourselves and felt unworthy of being loved. As our mind touches on these memories, we may feel these raw old emotions again. But as we stay there, our Higher Self will begin to soothe the child within. Eventually, this soothing may touch the pleasure centers of the brain that we may experience as a feeling of release often accompanied by tears of joy. We refire and rewire. It is then time to go back to the child within and give her or him a great big hug and say how proud we are of their courage to be who they were and to do what they did. Forgiving ourselves then becomes a cleansing of our mind, heart, and soul through the powers of the Higher Self. We find the real ME, our Higher Self, our adult ME. Then we can look at what the message was for us. How did it serve us in our process of growing and expanding?
We next can look at our adult life experiences such as assault, rape, or betrayal where we feel it must have somehow been our fault. Given the circumstances, we need to forgive ourselves and realize that we that did the best we could with the resources we had at that time; we have to let them go. When resolving old wounds, the ego is usually defensive, and we feel we have a right to hold onto these old feelings. We also come to realize that they exist only in our minds. In reality, there is no past; we let go of the blame that can prevent healing. Once we have achieved peace with the past, we are free to live in the present. Again, we look for the message that was in this situation that can help us in to process of growing and expanding. We should not necessarily thank the person for the experience, but from a position of our Higher Self, we can thank our mind and heart for having the courage to survive, move on, and grow.
But some important relationships may still be fractured and triggered from time to time with the emotional power to take us back into the old patterns. Some of these pains may involve family situations such as abuse or neglect or a sense of betrayal. When the two parties are defensive, there seems to be a need to justify ourselves and a need for blame. In working out the old painful experiences, both parties have to realize that these wounds from the past are having an unwanted influence on their own present. There was a situation in which each individual may have done what they thought they had to do because they felt it was the only alternative for them at the time, or they may have been swept away by the passion of the moment, or they were the product of a wounded heart and mind. Both parties have to realize that in the present there does not have to be any pain or blame. Each moment can be a new beginning. Each moment is an opportunity for two people to find peace, harmony, and love. Each moment can be lived in joy.
We take the initiative and approach the other person for the purpose of cleansing the relationship. Before visiting the person, we make sure that our Higher Self has brought the powers of love, forgiveness, and peace into our own minds. We next prepare our self emotionally, visualizing how we want the encounter to proceed. We allow the visualization to evolve until we feel the feelings we want to feel and the feelings we want to pass on to the ones we love. We are now ready to go to the person and describe our own feelings from the abuse or our part in the failed relationship. We tell them we have come to a state of peace with our self and with their part in the situation, thereby opening the doorway to letting them approach the situation positively. We do not blame or accept any blame. This is counterproductive. There is no blame. If necessary, we may choose to apologize, but we do so not to defend ourselves. We are not responsible for their feelings, and we are no longer responsible for the events that happened. That is all in the past. We merely acknowledge that these things have happened and that we wish to forget the past and live in the present.