A lot of times, when I write about religion, it seems like I am saying that “those people” (parents, priests, nuns, etc) should have taught me better, and that I blamed them (and still do) for not helping me to see God/Love differently, and this is not true. It used to be, but what I have come to see is this: people can only teach what they know, and none of these people or institutions (that were a part of my past) were aware of the larger dimension of themselves either. They taught “small religion” because they hadn’t had the experience, the personal experience, of anything more than that.
It sounds so cliché to say, “They did the best that they could”, but it is true. And there were some fun times too, some good times, and some funny stories…probably many more than I remember.
I gave birth to my sons in 1977 and 1981, during my “radical feminist phase”. In every book I read to them, I changed the words from fireman to fireperson, policeman to policeperson,….you get the idea. It makes me cringe just to remember it, but this was very serious business to me, and I saw myself as a sort of crusader, trying to make the world aware of women’s issues. I was angry and I blamed society for being lop-sided when it came to gender equality.
And this wasn’t the only bad parenting that I did. I worked hard to try to expose my sons to a more expanded world view, but anything done through the lens of fear and anger isn’t very helpful…and is certainly not enlightened.
Someone commented yesterday about a book by Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, and I had to smile. When I was a student at Harvard Divinity, he came to speak, and I gave my sons (who were 12 and 8 at the time), the option of going to hear him or going to another lecture. I can’t remember what the second one was about, but they opted for Matthew Fox and were bored out of their minds. This wasn’t where pre-teens needed or wanted to be. I should have just gone myself and enjoyed it, but I was trying so hard to do the right thing.
I think that my sons might still harbor some irritation at me for being such a “hell-bent on politically correct language” mother. And who can blame them. Not me. I wish I had been different; more relaxed, enjoyed them more, not tried to teach them about “the world” all of the time, but just like my parents, and the church, we thought we were doing the right thing.
So, if I want mercy, forgiveness, and understanding, then I must extend it first….and eventually I see that “you” were just holding up a mirror, so I could see myself.
Sometimes, when I’m having a hard time with a person or a situation (thinking that something they did, or didn’t do, is the cause of my current suffering/unhappiness), I imagine their face in my mind, I look into their eyes and say “I forgive you. Thank you for forgiving me” and then I imagine them thanking me as well. If I don’t feel better, I repeat this until something changes. Like spiritual shampoo, Wash, Rinse, Repeat until clear.
It’s time to let go of old worn-out stories about not being good enough (them, us, whoever). Tell yourself a new story. Step into a new world.