When he came to his senses, he said… “I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”
A couple days ago, on Day #20, there was a typo. It was more than a typo—from 6am to 3pm, there was a whole sentence fragment floating up in the middle of the reflection that made no sense and disrupted the flow. I’m sorry. I was grumpy and wanted to be done with the day and for a second, I didn’t care so much. I was fulfilling the letter of my Lent discipline but not the spirit. It’s a small thing, but I apologize because I believe in apologizing. I believe in owning imperfection, in acknowledging that your public image will have holes poked in it and the human will show through and that it will not destroy the rest of your life. The Bible doesn’t say much about apologizing or being sorry, not in those words. I suspect that there’s no word for “sorry” in Hebrew or Greek, that the concept of “being sorry” was inseparable from the concept of “missing the mark of who God created you to be” (ie., sin). In the Greek, sin literally means “to miss the mark.” The Prodigal Son, in the verse above, could be called sorry. Or he could be called “missing the mark.” What’s beautiful about the Prodigal Son is the line, “When he came to his senses….” It’s a new realization that apology is an option. From there, it’s simple enough to put the plan into action. It just took time to remember it was possible. We invest so much energy in not admitting when we mess up. Sometimes it takes an epiphany to remember apology is an option. Being clear about your errors create space for rebuilding, restarting, resilience.
Takeaway: adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy, reminds us apology is not failure. She writes, “Everything we attempt, everything we do, is either growing up as its roots go deeper, or it’s decomposing, leaving its lessons in the soil for the next attempt.” Apology is compost. Work on your compost today, let your mistakes settle into the earth and decompose. Let them become lessons, fertile and disintegrating, feeding the seedlings you’ve planted since. Maybe today is a day to practice apologizing. Maybe it’s a day to sit with yourself and look at what seeds are growing from your compost.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).