Healing the divide in our social, political and personal lives, is critical to our success, not only as a society, but also for ourselves, personally.
I hope you will forgive me for indulging in a deeply personal note to you today but given the discord we have seen over the past week (and months) I am compelled—by something greater than I am—to share my experience of choosing forgiveness over fear.
This is my true story of letting go of resentment, overcoming fear and healing through forgiveness.
In the middle of the day on Super Bowl Sunday 2016, I was almost killed when an intruder broke into my home and brutally assaulted me.
My attacker was a twenty-one-year-old student and track star from a nearby college. He was running from the police while experiencing a drug-induced psychotic break. Apparently, this was his first LSD experiment. Hopefully it will be his last.
I was working at my desk when I heard glass breaking on the other side of the house. Thinking one of my cats had knocked something over, I went to investigate. Next thing I knew, I was confronted by the mad, relentless fury of a 6-feet-tall, wild-eyed, drug-crazed athlete who thought I was the devil.
We had never met before and there is no logical reason why he chose my house over another. (More about that on another day.)
Eventually I escaped from my home with multiple injuries including a broken right arm, head injuries, bruises and contusions all over my body.
The young man was finally subdued by a German Shepherd when the police sent a Canine Unit into my home. Charged with several felonies—one, first degree—the young man could potentially face a life-sentence. Yet up until that day, this bright young man had been a model student, track star, Eagle Scout and volunteer firefighter.
I’ve done a lot of deep healing over the past eight months and learned more about love and forgiveness than I can begin to express here. But I do want to share what happened when, at my request, I met “my attacker” for the first time since the incident.
A couple months after the attack, I was graced with a deep sense of forgiveness for him when some friends came to my house to do a spiritual healing. So while I was apprehensive about yesterday's opportunity to meet with him, my heart was open. I saw the meeting as an opportunity to close the chapter on what had been a very difficult and painful experience.
What I wasn't expecting was how this choice would open me up to an overwhelming experience of unconditional love and acceptance. This picture, taken a few moments after we met, probably says it all.
"The world I look upon has taken the light of my forgiveness and shines forgiveness back at me. In this light I begin to see what my illusions about myself kept hidden. I begin to understand the holiness of all living things, including myself, and their oneness with me." --Course in Miracles Workbook, Lesson 57
I feel so grateful to be blessed with the enormous capacity we ALL have for forgiveness and love. All we have to do is choose it instead of fear. If healing the divide is important to us, we have to draw on that resource. There is no other choice.
But to do that, we have to WANT to see things from a different perspective. After the attack, I saw this young man as a monster. Now I see him as a young soul who made a terrible mistake, worthy of my love and compassion.
Didn't you do stupid things with unforeseen consequences when
you were 21? I know I did. (Quick update: If you want to know more about this story, you can listen to a talk a talk I did for my Zen group here)
Many of us look around the world and see hatred, violence and division. Of course, all that is there. But if we are serious about healing the divide, we have to focus on the common good, and the desires we all share.
I’m not saying this to be preachy or in an attempt to be perfect: just a few nights ago, upset over election results, I got into a heated argument with friends because their political view differed from mine! But when that type of thing happens, it is good to remember that we do have the power to CHOOSE AGAIN.
Today I ask simply that we all pause—if only for a moment—to see things differently.
To choose our responses. To be mindful about whether our thoughts, words and actions are hurting or healing the divide -- in our environments and within ourselves And when we err—choose again.
To imagine the possibilities of living without fear and allow love to heal the divide.
To see from the “Divine” point of view regardless of political affiliation, race, color—or the “wrongs” we have suffered.
To stop beating ourselves up for the mistakes we have made. (More about the importance of this soon.)
Let's imagine what it would be like to release pettiness and fear, anger and greed. Let's do our own small part in healing the divide. Let's SEE that we are ONE and allow forgiveness and love to seize the day.