Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Leaning into Mercy

I am working with forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of those slippery words- a term bandied about so often by spiritually focused folks that it can become almost meaningless. Who would argue that forgiveness isn’t a good thing, a desirable thing? We all know that forgiving someone else releases us from resentment and other less-than-fun-or-enlightened states of mind and heart.

But reaching for forgiveness because we think we should, won’t work. Saying we have “forgiven and moved on” doesn’t make it so. In fact, pushing for or adamantly claiming to have accomplished “moving on” is probably a clue that we have not so much dissolved or left behind old resentments as we are trying to outrun or bury them, afraid of the pain that lies beneath an armour of anger and glimpses of grief.

How do we forgive another or ourselves when real pain and deep suffering have been caused?

It seems to me that forgiveness is less an action than an outcome, less of a goal than a naturally occurring state of grace that comes when we learn to meet hardness with softness, judgement with mercy.

So, I am working with mercy, learning to breathe into the hard places in my body- the armoured belly, the tightened jaw, the lifted shoulders- with a soft inhale. Mercy is the quality of heart-mind I seek to cultivate- kindness toward myself and others in our human frailty; tenderness toward what is feared and toward fear itself; gentleness with aspects of self that feel brittle, stretched too far and weary.

I am leaning into a mercy that is larger than myself, asking to be shown how to have loving-kindness toward all that is unresolved in my life and my heart and the world. I am following the scent of mercy offered to me by the Heart that holds us all, hoping to find my way in each moment into being merciful with myself, others and the world.

In November 2009 I started writing this weekly blog poste. I committed to posting every Wednesday for a year. Now, eight-three postings later, I am heading into a couple of months of retreat to focus on writing a new book. I’m tempted to simply say I’ll be back in September and not post any new blogs for July and August but. . . .I want to leave it more open-ended than that. So, for now, I’ll see what comes. Posts will probably be shorter-snippets of where I am internally or geographically- and I can’t promise they will appear every week- but, let’s see what happens.


  1. Thanks for bringing the word mercy more readily into my own vocabulary by using it so powerfully here. I wish you much creative energy and joy as you turn your attention to your work. And I will continue to pop in here to see what you might be sharing. Love to you this day Oriah :)

  2. I love you Oriah, Thank you for your wisdom and blessings on you new adventure. We will be here when ever you need us.

  3. Good for you. We all need a new book from you and I suspect you need to write one. I will miss the weekly blogs but will be standing by when you are ready. I pasted the following quotation in my journal last week. "Forgivness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being God -for not fulfilling all my needs. I too, must ask forgiveness for not being aable to fulfill other people's need. When you forgive people for not being God, then you can celebrate that they are a reflection of God." Henri J.M. Nouwen.

  4. I whish you an enjoyable stay - where ever you´re going - spending some time on your own. I´m so thankful for having the opportunity following your blog, taking part of so much visdom! Looking forward heraing from you soon again.
    Your friend
    Marcus (Sweden)