Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hermit's Personal Thoughts on Forgiveness

Yesterday, while mudding some drywall with a very painful shoulder, thoughts turned (as they should) to Jesus.  It was helpful having prayed the prayer that Jesus had inspired through whichever--Bernard of Clairvaux, Mechtilde of Magdburg or Gertrude the Great. 

The added pain and the memory of how the injury occurred as well as the two shoulder surgeries, then brought to mind that healing also requires the grace of forgiveness. 

Illustration of rotator cuff 

I need to forgive, also, the first surgeon who repaired the rotator cuff.  But the pain in my shoulder continued after that surgery, and his nurse was not at all sympathetic.  She said she had the surgery and was fine after a few weeks.  During the winter my activity level was less, yet it still hurt.  I returned to the surgeon a couple of times, to be prescribed some prednisone to help reduce inflammation.  (I was already on high dose of anti-inflammatory medication to help the back pain.) 

By summer, when gardening and having helped a daughter paint some rooms in her house, the shoulder was excruciating.  The surgeon gave an injection.  The shoulder was still horrible.  He then became unkind and mocking, and said there was nothing wrong, that it was just in my head, and I'd never need another surgery and there was nothing more he could do.  I wept in his office which made him all the more determined there was nothing wrong, that I was a malingerer.

I need to forgive that surgeon and his nurse.  I went to a chiropractor for any hope of relief, and he insisted I get another MRI from elsewhere.  The shoulder, along with my constant back pain, had me so depleted that I did not want to remain in my body.   The chiropractor knew this was not like me, so he sent the MRI to a different surgeon with whom he had played on a softball league.  Amazing the connections and goodness of some people! 

The MRI was compared with the one from the first surgeon, and sure enough, the first surgeon and radiologist with his group had missed a huge Superior Labrum Anterior Posterior tear!  (I had even asked the first surgeon if there surely was something torn, for it felt as if I had a tear around the outer part of my shoulder.)

Another surgery was necessary, this time with the surgeon of a different group, the one the chiropractor recommended.  I had no insurance then and had not for years due to losing my career and the major back surgeries, so both surgeries and physical therapy drained more of my late parents' gift money.  And while the situation was an obvious malpractice by the first surgeon, I had no success finding a lawyer to to try recover any of those costs.  Bad luck some might say, or as I consider all in my life: God chooses all for me; His will be done.

Yes, thoughts of forgiveness came to the fore as I mudded the drywall.  I had asked for prayers from anyone out there who might read my blog, as the memories of how I injured the shoulder came back with the recent shoulder flare-up.  I managed to mud by holding the blade a certain way and making certain swipes--not otherwise that caused increased pain.  Still, in the night I awoke with stabbing pains going into my right hand from the shoulder.

All these memories, including of my late spiritual director, a Bishop, and the first surgeon, helped me realize residual upset triggered by the shoulder pain.  Then His Real Presence brought to mind the African woman whose family was killed as she hid in a closet, and how she was able to forgive those who murdered them.  

Into the mind came a marvelous priest, now deceased, who had heard my confession years ago and counseled me on another incident requiring forgiveness.

He told me that technically, it is not us who "forgive".  He said that forgiveness is a grace, and God is Who forgives.  He forgives through us, with us, in us.  So it is for us to ask God for the grace to forgive others, forgive situations.  And when we are given the grace, it is God Who is actually forgiving us or others.

While mudding, also came into the thoughts were Teresa of Avila's sharing her thoughts about the Lord's Prayer.  She expressed in Way of Perfection in much meditative detail the various components of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray--as the verbal prayer that has fullness of all necessary prayer, in it.  "Forgive us our trespasses [our debts] as we forgive those who trespass [our debtors] against us."
Teresa's insights include that most necessary aspect of forgiveness in this prayer:  that we need forgiveness first.  

We need to ask God to forgive us (as God Is Who forgives) before we can begin to have the proper state of mind, heart and soul for forgiving others.  It is the same insight that Jesus made when He pointed out that we need to remove the beam from our own eye before we see a splinter in other people's eyes.

The more I ponder my own faults in the two major bugaboos surrounding my shoulder surgeries and the reasons for them, the more I could grasp that I need God to forgive me for any and all faults regardless of relationship to those people involved in the painful circumstances.  

My mind, heart and soul need healing (as well as the shoulder if God wills), and my soul needs to be cleared of any sins connected.  Then, like the cracks between wall board pieces, God can fill in with the white mud, feather it out, and even sand it lightly to loveliness.  Once painted with white primer, it will seem as if never were there divisions in the drywall pieces, never were there screws drilled in, never were there surface blemishes.

It is by God's grace I can be forgiven:  His Real Presence.  I suspect He was feeling quite cramped and uncomfortable in the abode He has made in my body, mind, heart and soul.  I beg forgiveness for all my sins, for all my failings, and for having harbored upsetting feelings related to the whole shoulder injury and those persons negatively impacting. 

I pray forgiveness for the bishop spiritual director, the current bishop, the pastor, the surgeon, his nurse, and parishioners who lacked concern when I needed some practical help.  SLAP tear surgery is horrifically painful with lengthy recovery!

Once forgiven, there is space within my soul for the graces necessary for God to forgive others--His Real Presence through, with and in me and me in Him.  Only in these two aspects of forgiveness, is there healing and freedom to love fully once more.  

And a third aspect is to then have the space within to remember those persons, touched by God, who were marvelously loving and kind:  the chiropractor, some friends, family members, the second surgeon, and many on of earth and the other side who prayed me through such pain.  Praise God Almighty!  Let me not neglect the goodness He provides, always!

Oh, Lord, please cleanse my body, mind, heart and spirit.  Forgive me; then forgive them, for they did not know what they were doing.  Thus, through the power of forgiveness, deliver me from the evils of past, oppressive memories and hurt.  Thank You, Lord, for forgiving me and any others, our iniquities.  Cleanse our souls of iniquities and fill us with Your loving grace.  

God bless His Real Presence in us!

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