Choosing Forgiveness

Photo by Vera Arsic on

“Got a whole lotta reasons to be mad, let’s not pick one.”

from “Ain’t No Man” by The Avett Brothers

Today in my Creative Writing & Contemporary Literature class our discussion of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom turned to the life lesson of forgiveness. Timely, to say the least. As I shared with my students, unlike Morrie, I don’t believe that human beings are inherently good. One needs only watch any media outlet or scroll through a social media page for confirmation. Our natural bent is selfishness and hate. Case in point: rather than pray for our President in the past week, many wished he would have died from his recent bout with COVID-19. I don’t care if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, male or female, or whatever you are: no human should wish for another human’s death, especially if you profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

So rather than allow hate to breed more hate, I’ve had to make the choice. And I’m still having to make that choice daily. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). The greatest good many of us can do daily is to offer forgiveness. As I told my students today, it’s not that we’re condoning the action or saying what was done to us (or others) was okay. Rather, it’s looking the wrong in the face, calling it what it is – wrong – and still choosing to set not only the other person free, but yourself by choosing forgiveness. One of the best movie scenes to capture this truth in the past decade came from a Judi Dench and Steve Coogan film, Philomena. SPOILER: Here’s the key scene (forgive the poor quality).

Choose to forgive. Beware the poison tree (see William Blake’s immortal poem). May these words be more than just a villanelle on a webpage; may they be a life anthem.

For Those Who Curse and Cannot with Love Bless

Vincent H. Anastasi 2020

For those who curse and cannot with love bless
the ones with spite they’d sooner damn to hell,
we offer up the gift of forgiveness.

When eyes grow dim through willful prejudice,
then may our kindness obstinance dispel
for those who curse and cannot with love bless.

Though severed ears expect we acquiesce
in silence, our acceptance to compel,
we offer up the gift of forgiveness.

When death’s rank stench bursts forth from hate’s abscess,
then let love drain the wound ’til all is well
for those who curse and cannot with love bless.

With blistered tongues unbridled they profess,
a bilious philippic they foretell;
we offer up the gift of forgiveness.

‘Til calloused hearts rubbed hard by bitterness
emerge transformed from rancor’s prison cell,
for those who curse and cannot with love bless
we offer up the gift of forgiveness.

Published by thedeepened

I am a lover of words - the way they sing together in neat or sprawling lines upon the page, conducted by the great wordsmiths of all time. The way a sudden turn of phrase or surprising combination of sounds resonates with the deep within me, causing pause: moments of reflection and appreciation that transcend the superficial babblings and paltry visions of the infantile. Here at the deepening ground, it is my intent to make time and space for the reflection, appreciation, and creative imaginings that sustain the human soul.

One thought on “Choosing Forgiveness

  1. May we always be the ones to release the blessing! Throwing forth our anchor into eternity, “When death’s rank stench bursts forth from hate’s abscess.” I don’t know how you organize and massage these life truths into ordered form?! It is an art indeed. Must be all tied together with your rock wall building skills 😊💚

    Liked by 1 person

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