The four days of Kim’s spiritual retreat were filled with so much discovery, I wasn’t sure how we were going to process all we had experienced. But in fine Kim form, she pulled it together by completing the entire week with an exercise in forgiveness. But of course, how else could such a powerful weekend conclude.
Kim had us make a list of everyone we needed to forgive, every thing we needed to forgive. We made a list of people who had done us wrong, hurt us, or let us down on some level. Then she did a beautiful thing: she gave us each a perfectly clean, crisp white linen and some markers and had us write a letter of forgiveness to the one person we’d been hurt by most.
We forgave our x husbands, our grown children, our bosses and wives. We forgave our mothers and fathers, our co-workers and friends. With every stroke of the pen we could feel the burden lifting. For me, it was easy choosing whom to write the letter to.. There was but one name on that list that carried the weight of the universe, a name whose deed of wrong-doing was so negatively impactful that I was shackled to it like a ball and chain. So I took a deep breath and an orange pen, and addressed my offender. The letter began, “Dear Nia……”
How could I have suspected the one person I needed to forgive most, was me. I needed forgiveness for not honoring myself in every situation but rather, accommodating everyone else. I needed forgiveness for becoming small and not standing in the fullness of my own light, in an attempt to make someone else feel big. I needed forgiveness for hiding that light, my own unique light, beneath a bushel.
After writing our letters, Kim had us hike down to the river bend where she asked us to immerse our canvas of forgiveness in the crisp cool water. It felt like a thousand pounds were being lifted from my chest. I once wrote:
“Forgiveness doesn’t change the past but it breaks the chains that bind our past to our future.”
One by one we washed our canvases clean. Letter by letter, word by word those chains that bound our past to our future were broken, washed away by the cool flowing current.
As I dove into the crystal clear water, canvas in hand, swimming myself clean of the guilt, the anger, the shame and the disappointment, a rainbow of color was released from that heavy page of my life leaving nothing behind but a perfectly clean, fresh canvas upon which I could write the rest of my story.
Thank you Kim, for now I am free; Free to spread my wings and fly, being carried by the wind along a path illuminated by very my own light. And what a light it is.
For more info on Kim’s retreats, write Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.