Earlier this week, I wrote about how Francis entered pain and suffering rather than trying to avoid it. This wasn't an act of moral achievement or heroic obedience. It didn't feel like winning, but more like losing, dying, and letting go. The religious word for letting go is forgiveness. Forgiveness is giving up your investment in and identification with your own painful story. This comes from a deep place of inner freedom and awareness of goodness--God's, your own, and the goodness of the person you choose to forgive.
I'd like to offer you a form of prayer--a practice of letting go and forgiving--called The Welcoming Prayer.
First, identify a hurt or an offense in your life. Remember the feelings you first experienced with this hurt and feel them the way you first felt them. Notice how this shows up in your body. Paying attention to your body's sensations keeps you from jumping into the mind and its dualistic games of good-guy/bad-guy, win/lose, either/or.
After you can identify the hurt and feel it in your body, welcome it. Stop fighting it. Stop splitting and blaming. Welcome the grief. Welcome the anger. It's hard to do, but for some reason, when we name it, feel it, and welcome it, transformation can begin.
Don't lose presence to the moment. Any kind of analysis will lead you back into attachment to your ego self. The reason a bird sitting on a hot wire is not electrocuted is quite simply because it does not touch the ground to give the electricity a pathway. Hold the creative tension, but don't ground it by thinking about it, critiquing it, or analyzing it.
When you're able to welcome your own pain, you will in some way feel the pain of the whole world. This is what it means to be human--and also what it means to be divine. You can hold this immense pain because you too are being held by the very One who went through this process on the Cross. Jesus was holding all the pain of the world, at least symbolically or archetypally; though the world had come to hate him, he refused to hate it back.
Now hand all of this pain--yours and the world's--over to God. Let it go. Ask for the grace of forgiveness of the person who hurt you, of the event that offended you, of the reality of suffering in each life.
I can't promise the pain will leave easily or quickly. To forgive is not to forget. But letting go frees up a great amount of soul-energy that liberates a level of life you didn't know existed. It leads you to your True Self.
Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis,
disc 6 (CD)