As We Forgive…

After reading Progressive Protestant’s blog the other day, I got a copy of Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime and am making the attempt to pray the Hours during Lent.

I don’t lead a particularly structured life in terms of prayer. I don’t live a particularly quiet life. But I do believe I live a reflective, contemplative live–just with a lot of noise!

It’s just a very different thing to open a book at a certain time and read prayers, psalms, verses, that someone else has compiled. It’s beautiful and full of synchronicities, or the potential for them.

The first time around, when I got to the Lord’s Prayer, I had a moment of feeling that was so rote, would it mean anything to pray it several times a day? Then something amazing happened. I had an impulse to pray “forgive us our trespasses” instead of “debts.” The latter is what is traditional at my little church, but I grew up praying “trespasses.” That seemingly small change was enough to reach deep inside me, and as I finished saying “as we forgive those who trespass against us,” I found myself saying, “Oh, yes Lord, help me with that.” I like to think I am a forgiving sort, but there is, in the dark corners of my soul, a catalog of the unforgiven trespasses of others and my own trespasses that I just can’t seem to lay down for God to forgive.

That’s the catch, isn’t it? It’s “as we forgive.” It’s “love our neighbor *as* ourselves. First we have to love ourselves enough to believe God will forgive us, to trust God’s love enough to let things go. If we are hanging on to things, clutching them desperately in an attempt to make meaning out of injury and insult, we build our own prison.

Oh, yes Lord, help me with that.