I begin my contemplation of Psalm 59 not with the beautiful opening I shared last week, but the second stanza which calls for an honest look at self.  Forgiveness is a process of inner healing, for both the one asking forgiveness and the one being asked. Ultimately, for me, forgiveness is a gift from God.

Where I have erred in thought

            And spoken in anger

Where I have acted without love,

            I ask forgiveness.

Psalm 59*

In my life, I leave behind a trail of hurt and harm, some I am not even aware of because of my arrogance. In asking for forgiveness, I first fall to defending myself – it was self-protection, but that alone speaks of the absence of love.  Where is my thought for others, my care for the other?  In seeking to understand my own anger, I move from my arrogance to a place of humility, a place of self-knowing.

In the self-knowing, I see how my anger, thoughtlessness harms me.  It separates me from those I love, those to whom I want to reach out; it isolates me.  In this isolation, I cannot see the hurt I have caused others.  Once I am aware, I can see how I have driven people away, how I have hurt friends and lost their friendship, or my actions have caused harm to others.

Only from this place of humility can I truly ask forgiveness. From whom do I ask forgiveness?  Part of that trail is far behind and a path I will not travel again.  Yet I do ask those I harmed in my past forgiveness, and I wish them peace. I ask those near and present to me forgiveness. I ask myself forgiveness. I ask God.

From this place of humility, the honesty brings forth a well of sadness.  But the tears of sadness create a calming pool, a place to begin again. We step forward in hope and love.

*Psalm 59, Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness, Nan C. Merrill

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