Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pollyanna Doesn't Get It

That high-pitched "kew, kew, kew!" I hear outside is a cry I always momentarily mistake for a gull. We do have gulls here; they come up from the coast via the James River. But the reaction of the other animals always reminds me, after a second or two, it's no gull screaming; it's a hawk. My outside squirrels have dived into their nest bag, and even the flying squirrels, in the sun room, are restless in their nest, making scrunching noises as if burrowing deeper down for safety. The smaller birds are hiding in the bushes. The crows are gathered together in two big trees, screaming back at the hawk, who, however, is not intimidated. I've decided not to watch how it ends, and instead to share something I've just learned about forgiveness.

Forgiveness entails putting away resentment. Carry resentment around with you and it will poison you -- and drive away the Holy Spirit as quickly as anything else. (Okay, so technically, He never departs from us, but we exclude Him from our awareness, cut our relationship with Him.) Fr. Stephen has two excellent articles on anger that are relevant here; one is called, "Understanding Anger," refuting the concept of "righteous indignation," and the other is a link to Met. Jonah's wonderful, wonderful sermon on resentment. I hope you'll take the time to read them both. That would be time very well spent.

But what about the opposite problem? It's one I never thought of before. What I mean is, there are some hurts we sustain, about which we can never say, and should not say, it doesn't matter. Some things do matter, and will continue to matter. To take a public example, the attacks on September 11, 2001 do still matter and always shall and always ought to. It would be very wrong, downright immoral, ever to say they didn't. Or, to take an all-too-common hypothetical example, a spouse's infidelity. Even if he or she repents and the married couple is reconciled, it will always matter.

So, since we are commanded to forgive, since resentment swiftly kills us, yet since there are some things about which we never can and never should say, "It's okay," what is supposed to be the condition of our hearts relative to these? A sweet, sunny insouciance seems just wrong. And it is. And the heart knows it. So what should be our attitude?

"Sorrow," said one wiser than I, "especially on account of the condition of the other person's soul. Not that we can know that, but we worry some when we see such indicators."

"So why haven't I felt any sorrow lately?"

"Because you haven't been willing to."

"That's true. I'm so tired of hurting so much..."

"But you have to."


"Because burying it isn't normal and right and isn't safe. But carry this cross together with Christ; that's the key."

So it is. Because all of us know, or most of us anyway, that when we do that, the sorrow is transfigured. It becomes another form of communion with Him, and so becomes a light and even sweet burden. Carry your cross together with Christ, and you will never grow tired of it.

* * *

I don't hear any more birds now. I don't know who won.

* * *

DISCLAIMER: No, I have never been the victim of marital infidelity. It's just an example.


Chocolatesa said...

Thank you for this.