When I was in grade school. my parents planted a tree on our front lawn, between the sidewalk and the curb. One summer day my mom and I came home to find the tree’s trunk nearly severed. I immediately suspected three tough brothers who lived down the block, previously described in my Short Meditation “Turning Darkness into Light”. That evening my dad righted the top part of the tree and bandaged the wound. Miraculously, the trunk grew back together. Looking at the mature tree in my adult years, I could always spot the slight bend in the trunk where the damage had occurred. While the scar got higher as the tree aged- and probably would go unnoticed by most passersby, that scar remained a visible and mental reminder of the offensive chop.
That tree on my lawn is symbolic of the forgiveness process, that forgiveness is powerfully effective when we continue to remember the offense. Father Virgil Elizondo, a teacher at the University of Notre Dame, describes the process of forgiving and remembering: ” . . . the real virtue (comes) in forgiving precisely while remembering. If I could forget, I would not have to forgive. It would not even be necessary.” While our memory of the hurt remains at a conscious or subconscious level, it no longer carries the toxicity that breeds unforgiveness and binds our hearts. St. Paul remind us in 2 Corinthians 3:17- “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
The music video concluding this meditation is “Forgiveness” by Matthew West, recorded live at Spirit West Coast Del Mar in 2012 ( just ignore some jerky camera movements). Matthew’s lyrics are right on target, but even more amazing is the story of forgiveness and reconciliation that inspired the song.