Wednesday, July 15, 2009

TWO QUALITIES OF FORGIVENESS

To forgive and to be forgiven--both are necessary to community

A GREAT RESISTANCE. "Forgiveness has two qualities: one is to allow yourself to be forgiven, and the other is to forgive others. The first quality is harder than the second. To allow yourself to be forgiven puts you in a dependency situation. If someone says, 'I want to forgive you for something,' I may say back, 'But I didn't do anything. I don't need forgiveness. Get out of my life.' It's very important that we acknowledge that we are not fulfilling other people's needs and that we need to be forgiven. There is great resistance to that. We come from a culture that is terribly damaged in this area. We find it hard to forgive and to ask to be forgiven..."

WHEN COMMUNITY CAN BE CREATED. "It's not just individuals who need to forgive and to be forgiven. We all need to be forgiven. We ask each other to put ourselves in that vulnerable position--and that's when community can be created."

-- Henri Nouwen, quoted in The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, a collection of Henri Nouwen's writings compiled and edited by Wendy Wilson Greer (Crossroad, 1999).

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