I awoke this morning with tears in my eyes from a dream in which I was sobbing, asking for forgiveness from a young man who was my prom date. I had neglected him all evening and even ate dinner without him. I suddenly realized what I had done and went in search of him. I remember crying, “How can I choose you above all others, if I don’t know any others?” Awake an hour later, I could still feel the heartbreak of having hurt someone I cared about, yet comforted by the fact that I was forgiven.
The Scripture readings for today are all about tenderness and forgiveness:
Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance. (Micah 7:14)
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11-12)
When he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. (Luke 15:20)
This Lent, I have been following the daily reflections of Michelle Francl-Donnay (Not By Bread Alone 2020, Liturgical Press). In reflecting on forgiveness and mercy, she reminds us that we are created to be channels of mercy (forgiveness), not scorekeepers. Each day, she includes questions in “we” form that I rephrase in the first person singular. Today, I ask myself:
Q. Can I see myself not as the source of mercy (forgiveness) but as its conduit?
I have been following also the online posts called Radical Hope Lent 2020 (Ignatian Solidarity Network). Each day, a different network member posts a reflection on the day’s reading. Today, Genevieve Mougey talked about a different kind of Lent this year, focused on tenderness, kindness, and forgiveness – starting with herself. In reflecting on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, she suggests thinking about the meaning of being in “right relationship” with others for each of the characters in the parable. Changing the pronoun to singular, her questions become:
Q. What if I approached Lent with a desire to be gentle to myself, to assess my failings with kindness, and to tenderly correct myself?
Q. Where have I failed in my relationships with my friends and loved ones? Have I failed to show up in ways that are meaningful? Was I where I needed to be as a support for others?
Did my dream somehow anticipate today’s reflections and questions?