It’s there, but not in the four lettered iteration you think. It’s actually uttered and thrown from mouth to mouth, scattered like autumn leaves and placed on bright pillows in deep hopes of actualization. It’s deemed necessary and often seen as an end point, the end to our anger and suffering. Nirvana awaits within this simple word.
The need is immediate, and we leap over all mud puddles to place our bare feet in that green silken grass, and fling our boots to the side, desiring to forget our blackened soles.
But do we really know what we are asking for?
Do we know who we are asking?
I can share with you what I asked for. I asked for forgiveness.
All relationships are a two way street and even though mine felt horribly short and road-blocked, I knew I had hammered that block with my own nails. In seeing the depth of the nails, now splintering the wood of my marriage, I pulled one out and laid it at my husband’s feet, laying claim and offering as a promise I wanted to repair.
But he turned away from the nail, from my hands open wide, and would not give me what I wanted.
Even more, he kept his nails firmly embedded, his block growing into a stockade before my eyes. He sanded the surface, and swept any sawdust from the site. He packed away his toolbox and locked it tightly.
How could I forgive that which wasn’t even acknowledged?
I turned back around and saw my toolbox busted wide open, the hammer strewn to the side, vice grips laying twisted on the road, and my ruler snapped in half. The metal clasps that once held the top so fast, now lay bent and deformed, unable to hold anything together.
I picked up whatever remains there were, and threw them in the trash.
I put on my highest rain boots, staring at the raging ocean before me in my heartbreak. I couldn’t even utter the word, as all I would feel was a black wall, and a thick fog that would roll in with tremendous force.
I had an intention to survive, and an intention to understand, and that had to be my guide for a long time.
At first it was the wall next to me. Then, as the fog cleared, I could see the bricks piled high to my right. Slowly, with each healing day, and being held by my community, I was able to reach up and take down one block at a time. The mortar would crumble on my meditation cushion, and small bits would drop into my hair, the black of the brick passing through my fiery mane.
Sometimes a brick would stick so strong and no amount of coaxing or pulling would bring it loose. Weeks would pass with no movement, just dust slowly forming in the spaces created; rectangles of emptiness oddly positioned, with no real pattern, except a slow opening.
How I wanted to feel relief. How I wanted the wall to disappear.
That was the end goal, wasn’t it?
I recently spent a cold March Saturday on a retreat around the F word. The phenomena brought out quite a crowd, all of us sitting upright, and feeling very similar confusion. Our teacher began by laying a groundwork of relationships and what is present and supports a loving connection. Of all the terms he used, two resonated with me:
I knew these existed in abundance and were the cornerstones for many happy years of my marriage, but when I stood before the towering stockade in my divorce, they were completely out of my grasp.
On the heels of these definitions, our teacher then asked us,
“What are you asking for in forgiveness?”
As neither of these have existed between us for two years, I began to ask the next question, which was,
Who am I asking to give me these things?
Could it be that my communication of laying the nail at his feet was all I could do, and was enough?
I did pull the nail, and threw away the broken ruler. This was the beginning of self forgiveness and self trust. As I sat next to the crumbling wall, bricks were immobile when I sought answers from the past, from the turned back and locked toolbox. But the truth was, what I was asking for from him, I was cultivating in myself.
Maybe the wall wasn’t meant to just disappear, but instead be dismantled with care. The bricks were brightening from a darkened black to vibrant red, and I could see through them now, a wide window opening.
I didn’t buy a new box to lock my tools up tightly, but instead found new alternatives to the vice grip and heavy hammer. Now I had before me a supportive community, a bowl of ash to catch fragrant incense, connection to my breath, love of the crashing waves, and an open journal, ink looping on every page.
And as I turned the paper to present a blank canvas, I picked up my pen and wrote out in sweeping cursive the words I have wanted to hear.
I Forgive You