I just read this passage last night before bed. It is from my Wisdom Jesus book by Cynthia Bourgeault and she’s talking about a poem that was left by a dead child’s body at the Ravensbruck death camp during “a recent era of unspeakable human darkness.” The poem is as follows:

O Lord, remember not only the men and women
Of good will, but also those of ill will.
But, do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us;
Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to
This suffering–our comradeship,
Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,
Our generosity, the greatness of heart
Which has grown out of all this, and when
They come to judgment let all the fruits
Which we have borne be their forgiveness.

Wow! Wow! Did I say wow?! Can you even wrap your mind around that? Then start to remember the Amish school girl shootings from a few years ago in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish community reached out to the perpetrator’s family and extended their forgiveness.

Out of the ashes comes unbelievable mercy. “When they come to judgment let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.”

This, I believe, is Jesus’ teachings and his legacy. It is our human nature to want to strike back. An eye for an eye. Jesus taught us a different way–a merciful way based on love. When we are harmed, what lessons do we learn if we are open to them? How do we deal with our fellow human beings–with anger, vengeance or grace, mercy, love and forgiveness? Do we take it personally or do we understand with grace and mercy (not arrogance) that the one smiting us perhaps doesn’t know any better.

Had I not gone through hardship, I could not understand any of this. I would not have borne these fruits including this blog.

What about you? What hardship have you faced that has strengthened you? I know most of this blog’s followers personally. I know some of the hurts you have weathered in your lives. Death, disease, discrimination, divorce, marriage separation, job loss, demons of addiction, illness of children…the list goes on. These tragedies, if we let them, teach us things. They can, if we let them, make us stronger. They can, if we let them, bring us closer to one another and closer to God.

“Let these fruits be their forgiveness.” Amen.

I think somewhere in my past posts I referenced this Don Henley song:

You thought you could find happiness
Just over that green hill
You thought you would be satisfied
You never will–
Learn to be still.

~Don Henley Learn to be Still

How often do we live our lives this way? For me, it’s still too often. I think…just a little more money in that 401(k); just another certification or accomplishment; just one special person to love. We live in a land of great opportunity and with it comes the disease of “wanting more.” We’re often not satisfied and appreciative for what is right in front of us. We’re often longing for that we do not have.

Oh for the gift of peace, joy and gratitude. It’s right there in front of us–not even “over that green hill.” Learn to be still.

Sigh. So much work still to do….in the meantime, I’m going to pull up a chair and go, “Ommmmmmmm.”

A gracious woman attains honor, And ruthless men attain riches. The merciful man does himself good, But the cruel man does himself harm.

~Proverbs 11:16-17

Did you ever stumble upon a quote or scripture that seemed to be speaking to you directly? I’ve had “one of those days,” and this quote jumped off a Google search page at me. It was too poignant for me to ignore.

We’re continuing today with quotes from Joan Anderson’s book, A Year by the Sea. In it she describes her year of solitude necessary for her to find her soul. She uses quotes from other works as chapter headings. Here’s the next one:

When one is freshly informed, has a serendipitous experience,
one’s mood is changed, one’s heart is changed.
That is why taking time to see, hear, be present to images
and language that arise from new experiences
have the power to change one from one way to another.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

We live our days with our “to do” lists and try mightily to control outcomes. How much do we miss by doing so? How many mysteries and wonders and lessons escape us by holding on to the bar (May 18 post)?

This blog is about transformation and the grace of coming through hardships and tragedies that we all face in our lives. I’m beginning to think transformation doesn’t start with thinking differently, as I said in early posts in this blog. But, rather it begins with allowing ourselves to feel–something our society discourages.

Hmmmm. I must think–ahem, I mean reflect–ahem, I mean live with that question for awhile. 🙂

You know me. I’m reading yet another series of self-help type books. These are by Joan Anderson. I think I mentioned in earlier posts her book, A Weekend to Change Your Life.

This one is called, A Year by the Sea, and I believe this may have been the first in her series. It’s about her taking advantage of her husband’s job change and move to another city to say–you know what, I’m not going to move with you. Instead, I’m going to head to our summer cottage on Cape Cod and spend some alone time there. Call it a trial separation, call it solitude, or call it the search for her true self or soul, but she did it and then writes about it in her book.

Anyway, she’s got some great quotes from other works that she uses as chapter headings. My post on June 14 was the one she quoted to kick off the entire book. The one below–and I’ve heard this one before from one of you–is another one of my favorites:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves.
Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be
given you because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answers.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letter to a Young Poet

People have told me I’m a “seeker.” I suppose they are correct. I’m trying to find answers to questions. This passage reminds me that I need to have the courage to live with those questions and the patience not to force the answers.