This morning I thought about St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
Each line in this prayer might form the basis for meditation. This one most affected me.
“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”
I Only Meet Myself
I have been doing a method called shadow work, which involves deeply exploring those aspects of self that we learned as children to name wrong. We bury these thoughts and behaviors deep within ourselves, hidden from even our own awareness.
I, for example, was told that it was wrong to talk about myself by naming either my accomplishments or my problems. I made successful efforts to suppress such temptations.
That doesn’t mean they dissolved. The desire, though concealed, had an energetic charge that attracted lots of people who had no problem talking about themselves. I disliked them for their selfish and WRONG demands to be noticed.
Shadow work revealed that beneath my disapproval lay envy. Why did I have to bury my desire to express myself when they didn’t?
The more honestly I examined this discovery the more fully my judgment released. It took some time, but I learned to forgive those bad people for getting away with it.
In the foreword to The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, by Debbie Ford, Neale Donald Walsch speaks of learning that his “faults” were simply assets that he’d exaggerated. His bragging was overamplified confidence. His recklessness was exaggerated spontaneity and enthusiasm. He only needed to practice dialing down the volume of self-expression.
Herein lies the beauty and power of pardoning. If I can hear people going on about themselves without judgment, my act of pardoning them also pardons me for that disowned aspect of myself. I can look at it as a gift to be used wisely.
I am learning to balance talking about myself with thoughtful and caring listening to others. I may say, “I think I know how you feel because I have had this experience” and find other ways to build bridges instead of isolating ego towers.
With this and other suppressed aspects of myself, I am learning to uncover the gifts that have remained hidden for so many years.
Truly, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned—and set free.