Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Forgiveness at Shul

The person I do not want to forgive has joined my synagogue (her desire to appropriate my life is a longstanding issue, but has recently slipped down in the hierarchy of her transgressions).

The first time I saw her, at the opening of religious school, I was floored--even more floored that she dared come up and talk to me. Then I was rescued by a very boring mom from the neighborhood, whom I escaped when I saw R, who was escaping her own heinous mom appendage, and we fled to the corner and whispered throughout the presentations, as we do.

When I saw her at the children's service yesterday, I was not floored, and I even managed to smile and wave hello, before seating myself far away. I have friends at my synagogue, lots of friends, lots of people with whom to chat and whisper and be part of the community. She doesn't. She sits or stands alone, and that is fine with me (though I know she is noticing me and my friends, and noticing that I do not introduce her, and storing up that awareness in her own cabinet of resentment).

The rabbi came up to me, before the children's service. He wasn't heading for me--he was heading down the aisle, saying hello to everyone, and when he got to me, he said, "You know her, don't you?" and I said yes, I do, but there are issues, and I am not happy about her being here. He looked a bit dismayed, and said that she is part of the community now, and I assured him I would be gracious, and he looked relieved. I felt chastised, as I should have, but in a gentle way. I love the rabbi, and I would never want to make his life difficult, so I will be gracious--from as far a distance as I can get--but it's not just him, I was already being gracious, at least more gracious than I was the last time.

I was thinking about how wrong this is: it's the high holy days, and I should forgive. But then I think maybe (this was lying in the bath five minutes ago, thinking about this post) I came to some kind of insight, at least for me. I can't embrace her, I can't say "oh don't worry, it doesn't matter, we're fine," because we're not, and we're not going to be. But I can let it go. I can stop thinking about it and worrying about it and being angry about it. I can stop assuming it will happen again. I mean, the likelihood is it will happen again, and I don't need to pretend it won't, but I can let it go. I can let there be blank space, wary blank space to be sure, but a blank space apart from rancor and resentment. I really think I can, at least since five minutes ago. And that is a form of forgiveness, I think, or at least self-forgiveness, which is really what it's about (I'm not being New Age here--go read the Kol Nidre: it's all between you and God, not you and other people).

When I see her again, which I will, I will smile and wave and go on with my life.


Dawn said...

And now you understand why I don't really read Distaff! It's better to avoid those things than to find ways to make yourself crazy-nutso. Because I can't stop making myself feel crazy-nutso about certain folks but I can indeed avoid them.

Elizabeth said...

Have you read the Marge Piercy poem about forgiveness?

Andi said...

I am sure I have already blathered on about Pema Chodron, shenpa, and the Four Rs, but it is all highly applicable here, as it's all about not biting the hook. Recognize (notice that you're feeling what you're feeling), Refrain (allow yourself to stop feeling that), Relax (take a deep breath), and Resolve (promise yourself to interrupt that biting-the-hook cycle the next time it happens). It sounds cheesy, but Recognizing, Refraining, Relaxing, and Resolving has seriously helped me work out a lot of crap.

BarbaraCA said...

You are more evolved than I. I still have pretend conversations with them in my head - and I always am able, with the right words, to make them see the error of their ways. (in my MIND):)