Forgiveness has a domino effect. Accept others as part of yourself.

I apologized profusely for the door slamming shut behind me.  It was reluctant to open in the first place.  A heavy iron door to my medieval Moorish castle or a modern glass door timed to automatically lock as a deterrent to unwanted guests.  This entrance of a bustling apartment building enjoyed a rapid influx of people during the day and a careful exhalation of exiting souls bathed in a heavenly light surrounded by trees soaking up the sun until dark. 

At this moment, it was night.  A new tenant and already embroiled in epic conflict, I wondered how to choose my words wisely.  Why is it difficult to show someone compassion when they remind you so much of yourself?  Usually, I forget my keys.  I’m normally the resident standing helpless outside the entrance at the mercy of my neighbors.  Her velvet floral print hijab framed her face, as if she were a delicate marble statue in a European art museum.  Unmoving, she burrowed a hole in my back content to psychologically torture me for neglecting my elder.  She did not say a word. 

Our relationship aged us.  Signs of rust, like acne, dotted the surface.  I succumbed to the rage reserved for turbulent teens.  To control one’s anger requires self-awareness and imaginative travel.  If you stay in the moment, adding fuel to the fire destroys hope for strengthening human bonds.  Better to envision oneself walking along a beach with sand-speckled toes. 

God hears our prayers.  No need to yell.  Inside, I screamed, “Doesn’t she know how to be independent?”  She invited me to old world manners and unconditional acceptance.  Her reality, a bleeding watercolor portrait of blurry tears, challenged my vision, a charcoal sketch of disapproval.  My actions she did not accept.  My essence as someone dear, she lovingly embraced.

She expected more from me.  Why not humility?  Decenter the self.  As long as I am on the throne executing judgment, the world is a dark cave.  Her eyes, my light, taught me to soften my gaze.  When you see yourself in someone, thank God you’re made of the same stardust glistening on a clay jar containing water.  If you drink from this water, your blood will cool.  The same blood that runs in us all, like a river smoothing a stone.  This rock, my heart, took on a new shape.  She rounded the edges, this elderly neighbor, and I thanked her from the embankment where we leapt into each other’s gaze – deer wide-eyed and outwardly oblivious to the dangers of relentless traffic, an onslaught of restrained accusations. 

The sublime Narcissus – not peering into the water at a personal reflection – instead conquering the depths of self-similitude, following the intricate patterns life presents us all.  If she forgives me, I can pray without feeling burdened.  The beauty is that she, like a mother, easily forgives after responsibility is properly placed.  I owe her gratitude.  She forgave me; then I forgave myself.  Now I can store this apology on the shelf where I collect stories of triumph.  To realize one is human and indivisible is to obtain knowledge of God.  I am whole.


Submitted: September 07, 2015

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