Sunday, September 26, 2010

Beauty Breathes, Day Seven: Grace

Beauty Breathes, Day Seven: Grace

I had a conversation with someone a few days ago about the importance of discernment; about how sharing certain pieces of knowledge or understanding with people who may not be ready to receive them is unwise and can be damaging. I am going to continue to post regularly, but I need to do some thinking about how I want to negotiate using an open space to do so. I may decide that for the protection of my own process, this project becomes a private, rather than a public, endeavor. The internet is an odd place to have an honest conversation about attempts to expand one's ability to experience beauty and compassion in the world. It seems to hold a mirror up to the projections of others in way that I didn't anticipate, and may not want to expend the energy to deal with. I posted very personal things on a public space, and I offered an open invitation into the dialogue. I'm all for that, but it's important to me that that aspect doesn't become a distraction from the essence of this experiment, which is about helping me become a better poet, but most importantly, a more aware, expanded, and open human being.

For example, the statement I made in my last post about my difficulty in feeling compassion toward male prisoners was an honest one, and I refuse to apologize for it. I felt that the post would have been out of integrity to some degree if I didn't disclose that. However, I don't feel an immediate need to make generating compassion and forgiveness towards that population my first priority. My difficulty in doing so is a reality for me to recognize and acknowledge, to let sit until it presents itself as something for me to go deeper with. But the timing of that gets decided by my spiritual and emotional process, and mine alone. It's not the business of others to tell those who have been harmed what their time-line for forgiveness should be, or whether or not forgiveness is appropriate is for them. When you decide that you need to make that decision for someone, you're projecting your own unmet need onto that person.

I received a fair number of e-mails about that statement, in which people seemed to feel the need to explain to me how to change my ways and forgive in order to "move on". However, I have always believed, in spite of popular notions, that forgiveness is not a decision. Forgiveness is not an intellectual, verbal, or even emotional experience that we get to apply to ourselves at will. It's not something that simply becomes true because we will it to be so. I firmly believe that forgiveness is a state of grace, as is, to some degree, the gift of being able to offer compassion.

These gifts are not about us. They are not personal. They are not commodities we get to use and wield as we choose to. They are energies that inevitably come through us when our being has expanded far enough to allow them to. And that happens when we begin to heal, and we begin, as I am trying to with this project, to open ourselves to what is beautiful around us, to what we are blind to much of the time. That is my prime directive with this project, and if it needs to take place in the privacy of my own being rather than a public forum, I'm perfectly happy with that.

--Kristen McHenry


Jo-Ann Svensson said...

A stranger once asked me as I passed him on the street, “what experience are you missing out on when you judge me?” I wonder what those who ask you to forgive are missing? I wonder if they care or are too blind to care? Your truth, however harsh or luminescent, is not only beautiful but transformative. Thank you for doing your part in illuminating life’s magic. Jo-Ann

Kristen McHenry said...

"A stranger once asked me as I passed him on the street, “what experience are you missing out on when you judge me?”

Wow, I don't think I would ever get over it if that happened to me! That's like an encounter with God, or something. It gives me the chills just reading about it. Words to live by, for sure. I might have to write that down on post-its and put stick it on everything I own as a reminder to myself.