“Forgiveness when unavailable in the heart, erodes all trust and affection within us. There is no expanse greater to traverse than that.”
Forgiveness cannot be given by force. It is a journey, an invisible bridge, only reachable when the soul of connection is healed.
During the loss of my dear friend Djuna to MS in her 20th year, I found myself drowning in my grief. Our friendship was sparked from her remarkable unyielding commitment to a principle I knew as “ahimsa.” This is a yogic principle meaning non-harming. It is perhaps the ultimate pursuit of any yogi or seeker of peace. It was a principle she lived from her whole heart, uniting her openness, compassion and bravery.
If she suffered, or sensed her time was coming, no one around her knew of it. When she passed I found out on Facebook. She had lost the battle over summer break. I missed the funeral and was not there to witness the celebration of her life. I missed the chance to say how deeply her spirit touched me.
Without her presence, I felt helpless and lost. I failed to be a healer for those I cared for, my friend and now myself. It was like picking up a flower and in the forceful desire to know and understand it, I had somehow crumbled it apart in my hands. One teacher could see into my eyes the depths of my experience. She told me when her teacher sought wisdom, he would climb to the highest mountain to seek his answers.
I drove to the peaks of Eagle Rock. I’m wilderness trained but I barely spared a thought as I took only my sleeping bag, compass, crude provisions and a star-shaped crystal. There on the mountain I faced the crossroads of healing and self-destruction. I saw two marked paths before me – silently bury myself inside my pain, or lay to rest my burden and ask for some sign.=
Slowly, I felt into my heartspace. I noticed an extraordinary sensitivity to dampness, the light of dusk, the glimmer of starlight. Surrender, I heard a voice say in my heart. As I stood at the base of the mountain I felt the unseen presence of a guide. A silent thrumming urged me to search, seek further. I struggled to see into something beyond my perception yet still closed to me. Footsteps. A deer? I sent my willing surrender. Ahimsa. I held it in, contained it and allowed stillness into my every cell. I bowed silently, tearful to be with what was arising.
Just as quietly, it vanished. I found the humility of all the weight I had piled upon myself finally collapsing. I saw Djuna’s eyes in my memory, her face turned toward the sky as she laughed. How dare you. I thought. How dare you leave and suffer alone without telling anyone. I could finally face myself. Forgiveness poured through me like water through a river. I felt her presence, everywhere.
Then I felt something as powerful as the mountain beneath me rise up. Hope. Release. Deepest humility. I found the courage to speak my truth. In looking at myself with unwavering honesty, the ugliness in me transformed. At the bottom of the mountain I found a bed of reeds by a placid lake. Stillness moving the cranes in soft grasses. I held a feather that appeared on the path. As the unfurling indigo clouds drifted past me, I sent a whisper of gratitude above. In my open palm, I watched the wind carry the white feather to the sky.