Jul 22, 2013

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MEDITATION: No future without the tears of remorse

MEDITATION: No future without the tears of remorse

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Psalm 51:19)
Personal liberation and reconciliation with others often only occur when we as humans are willing – mostly with the help of others – to face our own guilt and destructive potential. 

And confess them with tears of remorse and contrition.

Also when we are willing to recognise and acknowledge the tremendous sadness, pain and heartache caused by our unwillingness to follow this route.

This important truth is wonderfully depicted in the Peruvian born American writer Isabel Allende’s novel, “The Sum of our Days”.

In her book Allende recalls the vicissitudes of her family’s life. Also how she and her husband Willie at a certain stage in their married life grew apart from one another. For her this was such a crisis that she at the time considered a divorce. Her husband, who had already been through a previous divorce, did not see his way clear to go through a similar process.

So he tried to convince her that they should go for counsel.

For Allende this was a difficult decision to make. Apart from being deeply sceptical about what she called the American “mania” for therapy, she also grew up with the conviction that one should solve one’s own problems. In the end however she gave in. And to her surprise they found a wonderful way out.

This was facilitated by a monk who only listened to their different stories in silence. And then when both had finished he looked up at them with tears in his eyes, whispering quietly: “What sadness there is in your lives!”

On the tremendous effect of this one sentence, Allende writes movingly:

Sadness? Actually, that hadn’t occurred to either of us. All the air blew out of our rage in an instant, and deep in our bones we felt a grief as vast as the Pacific ocean, a pain we hadn’t wanted to admit out of pure and simple pride. Willie took my hand, pulled me to his cushion, and we hugged each other tight. For the first time we admitted that our hearts were broken. It was the beginning of our reconciliation.”

There is indeed no future, no true reconciliation without this grief, this sadness, this brokenness, shown in tears of true remorse and repentance.

Given our history of social and racial prejudice and strife this remains one of the most important challenges that we as individuals and as a country need to face.

Carel Anthonissen

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