A while ago I was talking with someone about forgiveness. Their response perfectly and tragically captured the essence of how we often live:
“I’m not going to forgive him - I am just waiting for the right moment when I can give him one more good whack."
With a fist shaking in the air, his hatred for this person who had hurt him over a decade ago was the single thought that occupied his mind each day. His life was fueled by an emotional tornado of rage + revenge.
And as legitimate as his hurt was, his decade of bitterness had cost him far more than the initial injury. His rage had devoured the joy of 3600 days of life, and if anything was growing stronger.
Maybe it’s time to let go. To let go of the failures, losses, betrayals, and mistakes that haunt us and that keep us awake at night.
THEY did that to you…
THAT unwanted event happened…
THINGS you need were taken…
It’s tempting to let those actions, events, and losses have a lead role in our daily narrative. We relive them so they keep happening to us over and over, day after day. They are a weight that keeps us locked in the pain and regret of the past and not free to live and love and move now, today in this moment.
We don’t have to live this way. Freedom is possible, but we must let go of all the old baggage and clutter so we can make space for the joy and laughter and love and life to return.
Right… But how?!
It’s time for a Liturgy of Fire. October 23rd we are going to make a huge bonfire. We are going to declare our intention to let go and then we are going to throw tokens of regret and images of pain into the fire and watch them burn. It’s not magic, but it is a step. A defiant declaration to our pain and scars that they do not get the last word on our life. We are burning them out to make room for joy and tomorrow.
How should you prepare?
- In the days leading up to the fire, keep track of the thoughts and regrets and people that occupy too much mental space.
- Spend a few minutes everyday reflecting on the thoughts and people and regrets that keep surfacing in your mind. Name them and write them out.
- Pray and evaluate the list and try to determine why they “haunt” you.
- Take action. If you need to write them a letter, or call them, or message them, do so. Or if you need to write a letter just for you and never give it to them - do that. If needed get some trusted friends to talk and pray through your list with you.
- Once you have sorted it out, put a token for all the haunting thought, experience, emotions, people in a bundle or in a shoe box or an envelop.
- On October 23rd - Throw them in the fire and “Burn” them. Notes, images, unfollow people if necessary, etc. Repeat regularly as necessary.
- Wake up October 24th and remind yourself that you are choosing to disinvite these “ghosts" from your mental space. Reflect on the people and community and events that bring you joy and laughter and vitality. Live the life you want to live.