Thursday, June 6, 2019

On forgiveness

On, as in "about," as in not "in the area of" but "concerning," not immediately as a "taking care" but moving toward care, if care is to be read as rebound.

To forgive is a transitive verb, but not a transitory one. Not to say "that was ok," but to say "I will no longer be shadowed by your act." Or I will shrink that shadow down to the size of a pin from the giant who walks beside me, tongue visible on the sidewalk. Tin of tongue, Rod wrote about. What does it mean to put the mechanics of voice into a tin and close it? To open the tin with the metal circle that unfolds to reveal a silent tongue?

The French philosopher with a Russian name, was it, argues that forgiveness can only be arbitrary and sudden. She held her anger for 60 years. But that was not transitive on her part. The anger sat in her like a green-slimed monster (but not visible as such) until it broke. The lamp beside my bed broke last night, crashing to the floor after I closed my book. More powerful as coherent glass, or as broken? Broken anger alerts us to its sharp edges, the better to avoid them.

"I forgive him," the black woman said of the young man who killed nine parishioners in Charleston.

That's a mystery that no episode of Columbo can solve. When Bryant texted me about watching Columbo, it came out, "we are watching Columbine." How we arrive at it, if forgiveness can be referred to as object.

The woman who saw her colleague molesting the boy said nothing. The boy who saw his brother being raped and said nothing before forgetting it had happened. Forget and forgive are positives. To get or to give. To give life to or to give the hurt away. For is a directive; get and give are right action. So why do we refuse?

To be 60 is to begin to see the open field. I can avert my eyes from him or from her and see the trees ahead. In Oregon I stood beside a giant tree and experienced a feeling of awe. The tree split me open. It seemed old and kind.

So that forgiveness is neither good nor bad, but occurs to you or to me. "Occurs to me" is a thought or an action, non-transitive, like "attending" instead of "paying attention." I know it is possible, but I do not put my nose out and hunt for it in the deep grass. The birds come to me on mornings like this as sound; I cannot see them in the canopy. To bird watch is not to stalk but to accept their volition and their fly-bys, when they come.

The preposition is a proposition: a way of thinking through. The lava tube in the park is still closed, but offers a model of getting through. We pass through time, as if it were still and we the movers. Or perhaps it passes through us like water in a cool climate.

It is the process that seems difficult, no matter the size of the offense. As in perspective painting, the smaller objects are farther away, but that's a fiction we create to render space flat. The Cambodian village needed workers, so the former Khmer Rouge tilled fields beside family members of those they'd killed. Is that forgiveness or something more basic, like hunger? Can hunger lend us forgiveness, forgiveness fill us with its "moment of happiness" a burger brings?

Forgiveness as nutritive: there are the bad calories and the good. Again, try to cut down on the judgment intake. The teen is so obsessed with being the best that he cannot leave his room. The therapist oddly counsels giving him back his cell phone. Any connection is a good one.

What is said here will not be repeated outside the room. That's where abstraction comes in. We do not assign a speaker or an interlocutor, simply a situation. Situations resemble. If I can imagine being in that room, I have heard you say please let drop those judgments, those insufficiences, that lack of self-love.

Change the narrative so love can grow through the crack. You were not abandoned; you were passed on to what they hoped were better situations. You found one and grieve for the worse. For that is our nature, forever and ever, amen. We cannot offer you our feeling, but we can hold you as you water the bougainvillea. A woman on the van said "how beautiful!" and I said "it's a weed, but a gorgeous one." Let us be such weeds, or weedlings.

Some days the field is flooded with good feeling. Other days are more tedious, cramped. On both these sets of days I love you. Let me side with what is, and forego improvement. The apapane are singing.

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