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Lenten Devotion - day 1

A friend wished for a daily Lenten devotion. I didn’t have one to offer him, but I love my friend, and I wish for him (and all others) to experience God. So, I will try to write something each day. Take it or leave it. I don’t know what I’m doing anyway. I’m just a fellow traveler on this journey to the cross—to love and life.

My friend,
I was wondering how to share thoughts and practices that can help you grow closer to God, and thereby to find the beauty of the Divine within you and all around you this Lent. The first thing I thought of is forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful and transformative practices we can engage in, particularly during the season of Lent. When we hold onto grudges or resentments towards others, it weighs us down and creates a barrier between us and God. Forgiveness, on the other hand, allows us to let go of the past and move forward with compassion of love. In other words, it frees us from the past we wish was better but can never be.

In most spiritual traditions, forgiveness is seen as an essential practice for cultivating inner peace and harmony. In Sufism, for instance, forgiveness is considered a key element of the spiritual path, as it helps us to overcome our egos and connect with the Divine. In Buddhism, forgiveness is seen as a practice of compassion, as it allows us to see others with empathy and understanding.

Of course, I am a Christian, and forgiveness is a central theme in Jesus’ teachings and ministry. In my tradition, forgiveness is an essential practice for followers of Christ, as it is a way of embodying his message of love, compassion, and reconciliation.

Do you remember the story of the “Prodigal Son?” A son asks his father for his share of the inheritance and goes off to live a life of excess and indulgence. That is basically asking his dad to die so he can do whatever he wants. Then he did, and it left him empty and alone. He went back to his father seeking forgiveness and returns home to find his father run toward him and welcome him home, because his father knew that no matter what his son did, he was always his son, and he loved him.

You know as well as I do, that in that parable the love and the forgiveness of the father is supposed to be God’s love and forgiveness for us. God runs to us whenever we show up empty and ashamed. But what if we can be like the father in the parable, forgiving people before they ever ask for it?

Jesus taught those of us who follow him to forgive others as God forgives us. In the Lord’s Prayer, he taught us to pray, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). This suggests that forgiveness isn’t just a one-sided act, but rather a mutual exchange of grace and mercy and love.

Forgiveness isn’t about condoning harmful behavior or forgetting the past. Rather, it is about releasing our anger and attachment over hoping the past can change and choosing to extend love and compassion instead.

If you want to experience a closer sense of the Divine, and find yourself relying on God, take some time to reflect on any resentments or grudges you may be holding towards others. Is there someone in your life who has hurt you or caused you pain? Remember forgiveness is not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing practice that requires patience and commitment.

If you feel ready to extend forgiveness, you can reach out to that person. Or, if that is either too hard, or simply not a good idea (keep yourself safe my friend), you can simply offer a silent prayer or meditation, asking for guidance and support in your journey towards forgiveness.

Lent offers freedom from a past we can’t change, and forgiving others is a step out of the prison of the past that we are all trapped in sometimes. I hope this serves your journey, and don’t forget that sometimes the person we need to forgive most is the one we see in the mirror.

Until tomorrow my friend,