heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: The power of Forgiveness


“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

Louis B. Smedes

One would think that three of the most difficult (and uncomfortable) words to utter would be: “I am sorry.”

Not so. It’s the responding declaration of “I forgive you” (and meaning it) that poses the real herculean challenge.

When English poet Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human, to forgive, Divine,” he was echoing what many of our religious faiths teach us.  As a Roman Catholic, I’ve recited the Our Father a million times, solemnly whispering: “God forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Easier said than done…. which is probably why we’re required to repeat the prayer at every Mass before Communion and also after Confession… lest we forget our promise.

Sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself than to forgive another person.

Sometimes it’s hard and even impossible to forgive. Period.

“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.”

Isabelle Holland

Over the span of my lifetime to the present day, I can truthfully say that I have forgiven almost every person who has “trespassed against me.” Almost.

If a person – be it family or friend – says or does something hurtful towards me and they do it out of fear, misinformation, ignorance or haste (we’ve all said things that we’ve wished, in the next instant, that we could take back)…. then I forgive them. Depending on the severity of the hurt, I may not forget.  But I forgive. And the lightness of being that comes with forgiveness is wonderful and freeing.

However, there are a very select few people for whom forgiveness is simply not in the cards… as hard though I try.

If a person – be it family or friend – commits a hateful act with the malicious intent to harm me and/or those I hold dear…. then I cannot forgive them.  And that darkness is always lurking in the shadows.

Maybe someday. One can only hope.

Not for their sake, but for mine.

Some Book Recommendations:

Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hopeby Robert D. Enright


The Wisdom of Forgiveness by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan


For Children: The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson



Photo via pdpics.com

The “Human” in Humanity


As many Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday to remember the much heralded entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the Sunday before Easter, thus begins the first day of the Holy Week. The throngs of people hailed him “King” as he humbly rode his donkey over the palm leaves that had been scattered in his path – a symbol of respect reserved for kings and dignitaries.  Yet Jesus, a humble man, would likely be the first to protest all the attention and adoration since he proclaimed to be a servant of God, his Father.  He was, after all, but a man – a human who lived and served humanity – under God.

Indeed, one of the first humanitarians of record.

So, for me, I view this holiest of weeks as a celebration of a humanitarian, albeit a Divine one. It’s not just about the man, but the message: renewal, forgiveness, compassion, redemption, and service.

Lest we forget:

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Muhammad Ali

heatherfromthegrove’s poetry spotlight for today: “Forgiveness” by John Greenleaf Whittier


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As we wrap up poetry week @ heatherfromthegrove, enjoy this last one.

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by John Greenleaf Whittier


John Greenleaf Whittier born on December 17, 1807, in Haverhill, Massachusetts – dubbed as one of the “Fireside Poets“, this American Quaker was an ardent and vocal advocate for the abolition of slavery.  His first poem was published in 1826, in a publication called the Newburyport Free Press.  The paper’s editor was abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and it was Garrison who encouraged Whittier to take up the abolitionist cause – which he did on a local, state and national level.  He was involved with the formation of the Republican party and was keenly engaged in politics.  Whittier edited papers in Boston and Hartford (Connecticut) and – from 1857 until his death on September 7, 1892 – he was associated with the magazine, Atlantic Monthly.

Forgiveness although famous for his lengthy poems, the most popular being Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll, this poem is one of his shortest and is often quoted because of its quiet but clear message of “forgive those who trespass against us.”  Only when we forgive, can we truly heal.  Forgiveness is freeing. And, to quote a line from the Prayer of  St. Francis, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”  

Poem via poemhunter.com.

Image via pimminag.com.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Today, our nation honors the memory of a man who inspired generations of men and women ― young and old, black and white, and across every creed.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  ― clergyman, activist and leader in the American civil rights movement  ― received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, at the age of 35 (the youngest man to ever have received a Nobel Peace Prize).  When notified that he was selected for this honor, he stated that he would donate the prize money ($54,123) to further the cause of the civil rights movement.

He was assassinated by a sniper’s  bullet on April 4, 1968, in Memphis (Tennessee), as he addressed crowds of people from  his hotel balcony.

He was not only a man of  wise and thought-provoking words, but a man of action.  He acted on his beliefs and the words he spoke came from his soul. His name is on my own personal roster of people who have truly inspired me. Aside from his famous I Have A Dream speech (quoted in its entirety, at the end of this post), I wanted to share some of his thoughts on what, in my view, are four of the most powerful words to live by: Compassion. Forgiveness. Freedom. Hope.  

On Compassion:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”

On Forgiveness:

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

On Freedom:

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16, 1963

On Hope:

“The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.š


“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.

I Have A Dream:

(August 28, 1963)

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”


New Year’s Revelation No. 1 of 7: Love without Reservations, Conditions or Expectations


To love without condition, to talk without intention, listen without judging, to give without reason and to care without expectation.  This is the art of a true relationship”

~ Anonymous

It’s a new day and a new year, ladies and gentlemen! Yesterday is history. We can’t rewrite it, but we can learn from it. Today begins a new chapter in each of our lives. Embrace it with an open mind and a loving heart.

Love. It’s a simple word, really. Yet, sometimes we misuse it and, far too often, we (intentionally or unintentionally) misinterpret its meaning.

 Love — an over-used word?

How many times a day so we say “I love you” — to our children, as they go off to school each morning or to our significant others, and even to a family member, at the end of a phone call? I know, the premise behind the declaration is that we want our loved ones to know that they are loved. But, doesn’t the constant, repetitious utterance of the phrase somehow dilute its meaning? We say “I love you” just as often (and almost as automatically) as we say “Hi, how are you?” — to which the equally automatic response is “Fine, thanks. And you?”

Shouldn’t we savor the phrase and use it in moments that give it more meaning? Isn’t it more important to show someone that we love him/her, rather than tell him/her constantly? Incidentally, I do not mean to infer that giving someone a gift is necessarily a demonstration of love. Actions have far more impact than gifts. For example, when a mother of four is juggling multiple school/extracurricular activities schedules, keeping the house in tip-top shape, preparing home-cooked meals and managing to work from home … her husband could show his love by surprising her with breakfast in bed and taking the kids out on an excursion each Saturday, so his wife could have some quiet time to herself.

Let me share a personal story with you. Back in the first half of 2005, my mother was a permanent resident in a chronic care hospital. She was dying of cancer. Now, my mother and I always shared a special bond. I knew that she loved me and vice versa. But, one particular day stood out for me … and I weep, as I write this. She began to have bouts of dementia and she, along with some of the other patients (they all had similar illnesses) would often be seated in their wheelchairs in the lounge at certain times of the day. Many would dose off and others, like my Mum, would simply stare into space – expressionless. This one day, I visited her during one of these lounging hours. I got out of the elevator and saw her immediately, noting that her eyes had a far away look in them. When I was about ten feet closer to her, she focused her gaze on me and then, immediately, her eyes lit up. She smiled, giggled and clasped her hands in joy. And then, she said my name: “Heather!” We embraced. I stayed with her for hours and hours, just holding her hand and gazing at her, trying to memorize her face and that moment in time. No one had to hit me over the head with a bat, to tell me that my mother loved me. Just the way she looked at me, said it all.

That’s what I mean when I say “show” someone you love them. When a dear friend calls you on the phone, respond with a smile in your voice because you’re happy to hear from her. It makes a world of difference.

Love — its meaning is not that complicated, is it?

Love is not — should not — be complicated. It is what it is. We needn’t ascribe conditions, restrictions, expectations to it. That is not truly love. Some people are afraid to love because they fear getting hurt. Well, here’s a reality check: they will get hurt, we all do. However, that should not prevent us from loving. You see, only the people you love deeply have the power to hurt you, and vice versa. If someone says something negative about you, the impact of the criticism would not sting even a little compared to the hurt you would feel if the words were uttered by someone you love.

This is why we should honor the people who we love and who love us in return. It is so important to try not to abuse friendships and relationships. I say “try” because we are, after all human. We make mistakes. We say things before we think and can’t take the words back. What we can do, is say (and really mean it): “I’m sorry.”

Which leads us to another can of worms. Forgiveness. Aye, there’s the rub. True, it’s easier to love than to forgive. But, if we truly love, we must forgive. After all, isn’t that what loving without conditions, restrictions and expectations is all about? When a teenage child screams “I hate you!” with venom and blazing eyes at her parent, it feels like the blade of a knife. But, she’s your child and you love her, no matter what. You forgive her (and pray that this hateful rebellious phase will pass quickly!).

“To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.”
~ Robert Muller

I chose “Love” to kick off the first of my 7 New Year’s Revelations this year because it is the most powerful human emotion (the other, of course, is hate … but I will not be touching that one).

So, dear readers, my wish for you, in 2013, is that you love well and with abandon (not to be confused with promiscuity!! ).


 Image via charmedyoga.com.