Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Whew. Lent is three-quarters of the way over and, piece by piece, a vision of resilience is emerging. Awe, generosity, curiosity, presence, love…. the words weave into a pattern, creating a way forward. Except for that one thing. Resilience isn’t linear—we often think we’ve grown past something, only to find we’re still holding it and need to let it go one more time. Maybe it’s something you did; maybe it’s something that was done to you. There’s that one thing.
The woman Jesus forgives in the verse above is still holding that one thing. She washes Jesus’ feet and dries them with her hair, weeping inconsolably. And this is during a dinner! The woman is so consumed with the thing she is holding, and trying to release, and uncertain she can release, that she does not even speak to Jesus. But Jesus speaks to Simon, nearby, and asks him, Suppose one man was in debt 500 denarii, and one man was in debt 50 denarii. If their debts were canceled, which one would feel more strongly? “I suppose the one… with greater debt.” Simon answers. The greater debt, 500 denarii, is a year and a half of wages, if you were lucky enough to get work every day. It is insurmountable debt for a hand-to-mouth peasant. Even insurmountable debt can be forgiven, Jesus says. Even insurmountable pain can be forgiven. Even that one thing. “Forgiveness,” writes poet Buddy Wakefield, “is the release of all hope for a better past.” Resilience is about taking the time to forgive again and again, day after day, releasing all hope for a better past.
Takeaway: Find a definition of forgiveness that fits today. Choose one of the ones below or write your own. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day. Let it guide you toward resilience.
“Forgiveness is for anybody who needs safe passage through my mind.” ― Buddy Wakefield
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ― Louis B. Smedes
“Forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.” ― Cherie Carter-Scott
“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than God.” ― C.S. Lewis
“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.” ― Indira Gandhi
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).