Facing Forgiveness

It is forgiveness Sunday in the Orthodox Church. This is how we begin Great Lent. I missed Forgiveness Vespers because of car problems. I could offer a blanket, “Please forgive me.” There is nothing wrong with that. Still, there is something about looking into the eyes of the person you may or may not have wronged, of asking forgiveness for wrongs you may not know you have committed. Forgiveness Sunday reminds me of Fr. Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov. Each of us needs to see ourselves as responsible for all the wrongs done to all people, and thus infinitely obligated to make things right. Forgiveness is not easy. It should not be easy. It is about facing the fact that in what we have done, and perhaps most in what we have failed to do, we have broken the world, and we are obligated to make things right.

The world is not an abstract thing out there. The world is right here. It is next to you. It is around you. You are inside it. You are a part of it. The world has faces in it, and in order to face the wrongs we have done, we need to do our best to face those we have done them to. And if we are not able to see the faces of those we have wronged, then we at least need names. We need to know what we did or failed to do in order that we may try to do better next time. There is no forgiveness if there is not also repentance, and I want to repent.
Thus if I have wronged you, please reach out to me. Tell me. Even if it is minor. I will not think you are being petty. I will be grateful for the opportunity to know what I have done and to treat you with all the care, dignity, and respect you deserve as a child of God.


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