As I’m sure you know, Monday was September 11th.
It’s easy to get really mad today, to blame, to condemn, to give the events of 2001 to that Voice in your head.
I took some time Monday morning to reflect in honor of those who lost their lives on this day, 22 years ago. I found myself journaling—the pen to paper kind. Each year, at this time, my pondering takes me somewhere different.
I found myself thinking about how the loved ones left behind must feel—having a future with someone abruptly cut short.
How unwell must those who masterminded and executed this plan have been? How tough must it be to forgive someone who has done something so heinous? Not being able to forgive can make it difficult to move forward. No one in their right mind, no one who feels good about themselves, no one who knows Love, could have thought that driving planes into the Twin Towers—traumatically changing the course of people's lives—could have been a good idea.
Then I thought about choices I’ve made in the past that proved hurtful and how I thought they were a good idea, righteous, justified at the time too. Even hurting one person is one too many but who hasn’t? I don’t think anyone on this planet can say they’ve never hurt someone in their ignorance, in their arrogance, in their woundedness, when unwell in their thinking.
This pondering brought my thoughts to that short movie, Admissions, the award winning film for peace. I’ve watched it so many times in the past and will watch it again today in honor of those left behind. But before I do, I already know that forgiveness is the theme for me today.
Forgiveness can be a journey or a light switch. It can’t be forced, it can’t be commanded. When you truly understand forgiveness it will be across the board. There won’t be that one person you haven’t forgiven yet because if that’s the case you don’t fully know forgiveness. It's not case sensitive.
My heart goes out to those who are still in the throes of emotion around the events of 9/11. I’ve been in the throes from an event. I’ve wrestled with letting go of events in the past. This is a tough one,but I assure you, if you have a sincere, deep heart’s desire to genuinely forgive, you will summon the Voice in you that will guide you.
Those who plotted and executed the events of 9/11 were guided too. We all have a Voice for Love and a Voice for Fear in our heads. That Voice for Fear talks a good talk. It’s sly and convincing. It will often even shame you for doing what it suggested when its guidance backfires. Your negative self-talk voice is your Voice for Fear. It never wants you happy. It never wants you to experience love. It won’t guide you to forgive. It will guide you to condemn by either making you or the other person/people involved wrong and bad. This practice of wrong and bad won’t make your heart feel better.
If this is speaking to you, my wish for you today is that you can forgive yourself for your unwell thinking from the past. Perhaps take some pen to paper time, write a letter of apology and forgive yourself. I'm not suggesting you send it unless you sit with it and it feels right to do so. This is for you. Then pay it forward with a newfound ability to forgive others for taking directives from their Voice for Fear when they didn't know there was a choice, like you—maybe more letters not to send.
Sometimes all we can do is pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move forward from the day with a commitment to do what it takes to learn to choose guidance from our Voice for Love, or, if you are already connected, to step that relationship up a notch. And maybe another commitment to bring any thought or event that hits you funny to your Voice for Love for interpretation from now on. These choices will bring you that peace in your heart you’ve been seeking. It's a promise.
Taking forgiveness more seriously is how I choose to honor those who are left behind today. I call tough acts to forgive, “Tall orders to Love,” because they require us to do our own due diligence before we can offer compassion and understanding to others. This doesn’t mean we condone behavior. It just means that behavior, being information about how someone is feeling, is revealing how well or unwell that person is in that moment.
The macrocosm is a reflection of the microcosm. The perpetrators of 9/11 were unwell in a macrocosmic—magnified—way for us. We’d all be lying if we said that we’d never been unwell in our own microcosmic ways and that we wouldn’t deeply appreciate being forgiven for our ignorance and/or arrogance that resulted.
Even if we forgive someone, they still have to forgive themselves. We have to be well to genuinely forgive, also. Forgiveness wishes others well.
(It is an honor and a privilege to be invited into someone's heart. If they want to be invited back in they should show deep remorse and correction. That's for another conversation.)
I’d like to conclude my reflections on 9/11 with the Ho”Oponopono Prayer. It is a Hawaiian prayer about forgiveness, spoken with our heart, to our Voice for Love, regarding how we’ve found ourselves looking in the mirror at a magnified version of ourselves, and are humbled by the reflection:
"I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
I thank you."
We are all forgivable.
I wish you well.
Friends in this Love,
You also might find Chapter 4 from my book to be helpful: Have I Forgiven? 8 Checkpoints on the Journey.
The movie Admissions is so inspiring in regards to forgiveness. I highly recommend it, it's free, and it's only about 20 minutes long.