The Statute of Liberty
Recently, I did a three-day intense training in which spiritual truths are applied to one’s life in order to take action with renewed focus: coaching style. One specific truth that is widely used to emphasize the importance of what we do, each moment of the day, is that the past and the future are not real, and only the Now exists. In that context, the idea of the end of life is evoked and any unfinished business starts to emerge, asking for attention.
I asked myself what would I regret not doing or saying to such or such person if I had to leave earth today?
I came to understand that I had held on to rancor against my father from a childish place of hurt, which I finally was able to let go. However, realizing my father is turning ninety this year, something did not feel quite done by my getting over my anger alone. So I wrote him a brief note to let him know we were all good.
The big unfinished business was with my mother. In this same training during an exercise I was reading the first draft of a letter to my mother. When I read my own words “I forgive you for everything,” I got emotional. I told my exercise-partner that I was not ready to forgive my mother. A break was announced and the group leader told us to “go do something unreasonable.”
I checked my phone and there was my mother’s number. It must have been well over twenty years since I had used it. We didn’t have regular contact since the early nineties, when I started to become aware of who she was via her strange reactions to my revelations about past occurrences.
In the years of stony silence I have wavered between moments of compassion and deep-seated anger and resentment. At various times in adulthood, I had felt vulnerable around her and had been hurt again.
I dialed the number and heard her voice, slow and old.
It was so strange to hear myself say the word that I broke out into tears, even as she apparently had not quite grasped whom she had on the line.
I repeated: “Mama?”
She responded with a quiet acknowledgment and I heard her get emotional, as well.
I asked her if I could speak to her in English and she said that that would be fine, if I could try to speak slowly. So I told her I would translate.
“I took a seminar this weekend that made me look at the story I created about what happened in the past.”
When I heard myself say “story I created” I became self-conscious, because my mother had told me at some point that I had made up a story about the past. So I clarified:
“I’m not saying what happened is a story. What happened happened. But I created a story beyond what happened and that caused me to feel a lot of anger and resentment. It created a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and feelings.”
“Fantastic,” my mother said.
“So,” I continued. “ I’m trying to set myself free from all those things that don’t really matter in life and focus only on what is important. Thank you for bringing me into this world and for dressing me in the morning and cooking, and for being there. I know that was not easy for you. I forgive you for everything.”
Upon hearing this, my mother gasped and exclaimed:
“I can’t believe it!”
I finished reading and translating the note:
“I forgive you for everything and I hope that to some degree this can also set you free.”
My mother repeated:
“I can’t believe it.”
She was genuine in her surprise. Then she asked:
“So, you’re doing really good, then?”
I told her I was doing really well, that my story was inspiring people to heal and that I was involved in healing work that made me feel happy and fulfilled. We said a few more things, not very much. I managed to let her know her that this call did not mean that I would stop speaking about what happened.
And that was it.
I made this call three weeks ago and it changed my life.
Immediately, I felt an enormous burden lift off my shoulders. The feeling of lightness has persisted.
I understand that my mother is the same person as she was before. I heard her trying to please me during the phone call, which is how she always was when I was confident and didn’t need her.
Since the phone call I see her with more clarity and with much greater compassion. And I haven’t wavered in how I perceive her. From the human-experience-point-of-view I see her at the age at which her trauma ended her emotional growth, around five years old. In general, I see her as a being of light.
I have been visualizing both my mother and father in bright, white light. That light, the substance of the universe, is also my substance and the substance of each of them. That light that is in each person, no matter how deeply it is hidden.
Since I forgave my mother, I have forgiven many others. Every person I can think of that I’ve been hurt by, I visualize in the bright light that shows them as they truly are.
Forgiveness taps into a universal law that is meant to liberate us. Forgiveness has shown me that there are no good guys and bad guys. I have set myself free. And my greatest desire is to share this way to freedom with all.
My resolve to forgive all has been put to the test already and I’m certain the tests will continue.
Forgiveness is for the strong. It comes at the end of healing, once the sense of self is restored and perpetrators have truly lost their power over us. It is a liberating gift that sets us all free.