Sister Theresa of Avila, a woman who founded the order of Carmelites says that deep within each of us is an inner castle, our heart. She is one of my mentors that I admire for her faith, strength, and endurance. She says that it is in the inner castle where beauty, treasures, and dreams, even afflictions dwell with LOVE. For beauty and inflictions both can pierce the heart. Even when she was suffering with a chronic illness that racked her body with pain, she traveled to remote places in Spain to plant convents taking in many young women who lived in the streets. Those were the days when poverty wreaked hunger and children went out to the streets to work for bread. She never tired of serving her Master, giving bread to the poor and prayed for them. Carmelites pray and live in silence (contemplative prayer) as service to their Master. I thank God for the Carmelites and their prayer life. These are they that delivered me from religion prejudices.
It is in the Inner Castle that healing of deep wounds that have become toxic is imperative, the Sister suggests. Living is hard and stuff inevitably hardens hearts and blurs visions. But suffering comes to break us, bring tears to wash our eyes and softens hard hearts. I like that… when we blame, run or fight, we never grow wiser with compassionate love. Someone said that when we stop running, we begin to move forward. Running from what? I ask – Running from pain of injustice and unfairness. Unfairness and injustice will always be here. Forgiveness is the most powerful antidote for this condition.
There’s a tradition of one African tribe that is encouraging. When a young woman is pregnant, the women would take her to the woods and sing the birth song. The song is beautiful with loving and kinds words. The women will sing the same song when the child is born and when the child goes through each of his rites of passage. The birth song is sung at pregnancy, at birth, during rites of passage and at his death. But they also sing the song at a special time when he had carried suffering into the community by committing a crime. The tribe forms a circle and place him in the center and begin to sing. They sing to remind him of his goodness. Overwhelmed with love and compassion to forgive him, he would tear up, looking into his inner castle, asks the community for forgiveness. The tribe recognize that love and forgiveness, not punishment, is the remedy to losing one’s way.
Conditioned thoughts of hate and unforgiveness become habitual that control our impulses and outlook in life. Unforgiveness, like venom kills. The initial bite of a poisonous snake is painful but the real problem comes with venom coursing through the veins invading every cell of the body – like resentment and unforgiveness kills your heart. Total forgiveness is when the event passes through your mind without raising any emotional reaction.
Love forgives and does not remember the wrongs of others. [/restrict]