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If you are still here, I apologize to you for not sharing my thoughts for so long. My life has been more complicated, in large part because of a failure, on my part, to live the Secrets which I have been writing for over ten years. I think, at one time or another, all of us who attempt to share what life has taught us, experience “The Impostor Syndrome.”
For me, this typically shows up one of two ways: Either I feel I have nothing left to share, or I feel unqualified to share my thoughts and observations. It does not matter that I know, in my heart of hearts, this is only my little ego being afraid. Such knowledge offers very little comfort when my life is reflecting back to me (largely because of choices I am making or have made) that I cannot live the “Truths” I share.
Knowing that the eyes which catch the reflections of my life are filtered by this strong negativityÂ does not seem to offer much relief. When I am healthy. When I am merely walking my day-to-day journey and not allowing my thoughts to be dominated by “what I have not accomplished, what goals I have not reached, or which songs remain trapped in my heart, because of the fear that I may sing out of key,” all is well. I feel healthy, happy, and free of the chains, which still creep around my heart and brain, like vines of Kudzu, from time to time.
Knowing that I can BE in a state of perpetual freedom, it seems almost unfathomable that I would ever make another choice; but the trickster, the Loki of my brain, is veryÂ adept at making me think that the fruits of my labor should define me. It encourages me to reject what I know to be Truth: (that simply BEING is enough.) Why shouldn’t this aspect of my personality be highly skilled? It has been my constant companion, and many times my perceived “I AM,” for most of my 60+ years. What amazes me, and from a healthy, higher ground amuses me, is that I can still be so imprisoned by self-loathing, which I have supposedly cleared from my consciousness, so many times in the last 34 years of my spiritual quest.
I find that I must keep vigilant, each and every day, indeed each and every minute to make sure that I am not lulled into the painful sleep, which my forgetfulness affords. Whether I show up here to report on my lessons and progress/setbacks or I take another extended sabbatical from my frequently malfunctioning electronics, I vow, to myself, that each time I become aware of my destructive inner thoughts, I will forgive my past and, Â at least for the present, set myself free.
To anyone who finds this post: I am really grateful that you have taken the time to read this. If you are like me, your soul must need to hear this. I know I needed to or my heart would not have insisted on revealing how I can exist in such an unenlightened state.
Several months ago, actually it was in the Christmas Day edition of the Kansas City Star newspaper, I read about a man named Darryl Burton who had spent 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The headline read: â€œFormer Inmate Defines Forgiveness.â€ I typically find such an article nearly irresistible and this piece did not disappoint.
The article revealed that Burton had been released from the Missouri State Prison system where he spent 24 years, after a judge ruled that Burtonâ€™s original trial had been unconstitutional.
I searched the writing for a glimpse of the promised definition of forgiveness and I want to share a little of what I found. To quote Burton: â€œIf I hadnâ€™t forgiven them, I would still be in prison, a spiritual prison.â€
This quote reminded me of a book, I had read, entitled We Are All Doing Time by Bo Lozoff. Not becauseÂ Bo spent a lot of time touting the virtue of forgiveness, but because he taughtÂ that we are all imprisoned by the way we view the world, which is oftenÂ through a set of rules we learned as children and never challenged. I think Bo would agree with Burton that the failure to forgive those who imprisoned him, would keep Mr. Burton trapped in a spiritual prison.
Without constantly examining the belief systems, which can holdÂ us in bondage, we may remain trapped in prisons which have no apparent walls. Every time we find ourselves reacting to some stimuli, in any type of negative way, we uncoverÂ an opportunity to examine our beliefs, to see where we are clinging to illusions; illusions which mayÂ keep us from being free.
Burton understood this truth. While many people would harbor a great deal of resentment for having 24 years stolen from them, this wise man decided, instead, to free himself of such obstruction. He decided to enjoy his freedom to the fullest, and now he travels the States sharing the wisdom he has gained from his experiences.
In addition to teaching, Burton is working on a Masterâ€™s in Divinity and plans to spend the remainder of his years serving his Lord and telling his story of hope and forgiveness. I contactedÂ Mr. Burton through the Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, KS where he is an associate pastor, and shared an earlier draft of this post. You can read more about his story on his website:Â http://www.darrylburton.org/
To recap, I shared this article because I think it is a very important lesson. If a man like Darryl Burton, who essentially had 24 years of his life stolen, can find it in his heart to forgive all those responsible for his loss, then surely you and I can chooseÂ to forgive the driverÂ who cuts us off in traffic, or the friend who falls short of our expectations. When I think about how minor the indiscretions are,Â sometimes, which cause me so much angst, I find they pale in comparison to being locked up for years, for a crime I did not commit. It really puts things in perspective, doesnâ€™t it?
Forgive everyone for everything, now. Donâ€™t wait. Donâ€™t allow yourself to spend even one more minute in prison. Yes, others have hurt you. Yes, others have done things which were inconsiderateÂ and thoughtless; but do you need to continue to suffer. Whatever was done is in the ancient past. You can do nothing about it now, except love yourself enough to let it go.
Consider these words from the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: â€œForgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.â€ And also this thought: â€œWe must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.â€
Darryl Burton understands this truth. Darryl Burton is a very wise man. He has chosen freedom. Each of us can make the same choice, right now. We owe it to ourselves to choose Love.
Article citation: Bauer, Laura. “Former Inmate Defines Forgiveness.” Kansas City Star 25 Dec. 2015: Â page 1. Print. Also here is a link to the same article with the title: â€œFrom the Pit to the Pulpit.â€
As I was working, this week, gathering everything I needed for our taxes I found an old book hiding in an unexpectedÂ place. It was a forty-two year old little book by Helen Steiner Rice. I am not sureÂ where it came from but I thinkÂ I bought it as part of a collection of books from an Estate Sale.
Mrs. Rice was a writer for the Greeting Card company, Gibson Cards (I believe) and, as I have noticed in other of her books, she has a gentle, easy way of speaking directly to my heart.
Anyway, I opened this little book to the first entry entitled: The Magic of Love. I thought it was nice, so I decided to share it here:
Love is like magic.
And it always will be,
For love still remains
Lifeâ€™s sweet mystery!
Love works in ways
That are wondrous and strange
And thereâ€™s nothing in life
That love cannot change.
Love can transform
The most commonplace
Into beauty and splendor
And Sweetness and Grace!
Love is the answer
That everyone seeksâ€“
Love is the language
That every heart speaks.
Love canâ€™t be bought,
It is priceless and free,
Love like pure magic
Is a sweet mystery!
Citation:Â Rice, Helen Steiner. Everyone Needs Someone. Place of Publication Not Identified: Revell, 1973. Print.
So simple, so clear. It speaks of the Love which cannot be explained, cannot be quantified or defined. It is, in fact, a great mystery, this Love which can only be felt or ignored.
We are this Love.
When we are living authentic lives, we allow this Beingness to flow in and through us, as us. And Mrs. Rice was correct, â€œThere is nothing that Love cannot change.â€ There is nothing that Love cannot heal.