It all started with a list. Last month I was very preoccupied with all the things I wanted to do this new year. They were all good things, some things I wanted to learn, some personality traits I wanted to improve. I made a list.
I pondered the list for a few days, wondering where I should focus my energy. But the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized I was already at maximum capacity. I am navigating the family control center. It is a busy place, with diapers, and dishes, and teenagers, and special-ed.
I decided, you know what, I'm good enough.
I am doing enough.
I just need to keep doing my best.
(This sounds like something my good Mom would say.)
I crumpled up my list and threw it away.
Last year for January family night, we all sat down as a family and wrote down resolutions. This year, no longer being in resolution mode myself, I had another inspired idea.
I was going to do this for my kids, for some family harmony, and on principle.
We gathered as a family, and I handed out pencils and cards. I asked the kids to keep their cards private, but to write down the name of every person who had offended them or hurt them or done something to them this year. Including among our own family members. If they wanted they could write down the thing that bothered them too.
And then we got some flames going in the fireplace, and we burned each card, one by one. While we burned them we said these words, some of us silently, but the words were,
I forgive all of you.
To be honest, I didn't think this would really work. Forgiveness has always been such an elusive thing for me. I'm a grudge-holder. I'll think I have truly let something go, only to find myself stewing about it later, and frustrated with myself.
So, in fairness, I warned the kids, This might not work, and you might still feel some pain or anger later on, and that's ok. But it's also ok to try. And it's ok to need help from the divine.
One by one the cards burned. Simple. Easy. Almost, too easy. I didn't really think about it. Didn't analyze it, as I have in the past. Just did it, cause the kids were doing it, and didn't want to make too big of a deal out of it.
A couple of weeks went by for me, full of our usual busy-ness. A beautiful peacefulness has crept up slowly upon me. I feel a softness that is unusual for me, especially considering my stress level right now. It's a little easier to tame my temper. I feel a little less upset at the world, and well, happier.
Somehow, during our little ritual, I found some extra peace I was not expecting. Peace that I would've paid lots of money for had I realized it was so easy. I think I always made things too complicated before. Or I didn't make an attempt to forgive because I assumed I would fail, so why try.
Of course, I have no guarantees that this will last, but I do know, that a regular ritual of Forgiveness is going to be part of my life. Most especially, it will be a part of our starting each new year: a new tradition.
What better way to start a new year, then to let go of last year's baggage? Seems a better way to get a fresh start on the year then to make an impossible list.
Here's to a Hopeful New Year for me, full of seed catalogs, and garden books, and knitting patterns in the queue. I may, or may not, get to all these things I hope to do. I am okay with that.