Below is a forgiveness meditation. Forgiveness is critical to the spiritual life. In the Gospel of Matthew, right after teaching us how to pray, Jesus adds, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15). Likewise, in the Gospel of Mark, we find the following: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
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Welcome. Please join me for a forgiveness meditation. We’ll start with three deep breaths. (1) Take a deep breath, slowly, deeply and completely. Hold it briefly. And as you exhale, relax. Let all tensions go. Remember a time you were truly relaxed. (2) And take another deep breath, slowly, deeply and completely. Hold it briefly. And as you exhale, slowly, deeply and completely, relax. Let all tensions go. Find yourself feeling more and more relaxed with each in- and out-breath. And take another deep breath, slowly, deeply and completely. Hold it briefly. And as you exhale, relax. Let all tensions go.
And now, breathing normally, notice what you’re experiencing physically. You may be more relaxed, and enjoy that. Your mind may have slowed down, perhaps even become totally clear. Your emotions all in harmony.
So now, if you’re ready to, let’s go on a forgiveness journey. Imagine you’re walking on a path sloping down to a green meadow. And there by a stream, and a beautiful cool blue lake, is a tree – your tree of life. With deep and strong roots, spiritual roots, and great, great strong branches reaching up to the sky as if they’d touch the heavens. You go and sit right under the tree, and notice Jesus is there also sitting with you, looking at you lovingly, gently, forgivingly…
Sitting under that tree, you feel that gentle, loving, forgiving gaze… You want to be like that. And you remember that, this meditation, you had the intention to forgive people. Looking around the meadow you notice some rocks strewn about – boulders – boulders signifying the people who’ve offended you. They symbolize your anger and your hurt, and they’re cluttering up your meadow, so you’ve decided to do something about it.
…to forgive someone is to heal yourself
………to hold on to anger is to hurt yourself again…
That’s one reason Jesus taught us to love one another and to forgive one another. It’s good health. Just look how warmly, forgivingly and lovingly Jesus is looking at those three…and at you… how about that.
So you call out to one of the people who has offended you, and you tell them how they’ve hurt you what they’ve done to offend you …… then you say I forgive you, inasmuch as I can. The rest, you can say, I release to GOD to help me with… Then you take a boulder (it may be big or it may be small, depending on how much forgiveness you need to summon up) and you throw it, or roll it, or earthquake-shake it into the lake… and the garden around your tree of life becomes more clear. And as that happens you may feel your shoulders getting lighter, and your heart getting lighter too. And the person somehow vanishes away from your cares into the heart of Jesus…
and then you can look at Jesus. You can say to yourself, “Self?” you say to yourself, “I forgive myself inasmuch as I can. Whatever I may have done to stand in my own way, been my own worst enemy, I forgive. And the rest I give to God.” And you can see Jesus looking at you so lovingly and forgivingly that you feel so light you can almost fly, as you, too, are taken into the very heart of God, and somehow you begin to know deeply in your bones that you are God’s beloved child.
Now it comes to the time to leave your garden. You can take a moment to look around. There may be still a few rocks. You know you have to come back again from time to time, because you want your meadow to be clear, so flowers can grow. And you feel…a lightness and a joy that comes from knowing that you are fully loved, with an infinite, unconditional love, forever and always.
Feeling your fingers and your toes, feeling the chair or the mat, as it supports
you. Noticing how good it was to take a moment to be generous with yourself in this way. And, perhaps, setting the intention to make this a regular practice. God bless.
About Contemplative Prayers
NHM Ministrants offers prayerful meditations and visualizations to enrich the personal spiritual life. The meditations and visualizations are geared towards adults, teens and tweens. Most, but not all, include references to God. Those marked “secular” do not. For children, we suggest the Butterfly meditations available free in many languages from The Elfenworks Foundation. Wave Rider is a track from the Commodore Callahan CD, “Love is Here.”
Non-Medical Disclaimer – We are not engaged in professional medical services and assume no responsibility for patient outcomes. Medical advice and decisions are appropriately made only by a competent and licensed medical practitioner, who must make decisions, in light of all of the facts and circumstances in each individual and particular case. We absolutely do not advocate that anyone turn away from their current treatment or support—these meditative visualizations are intended to augment, not replace, any such treatment. —NHM Ministrants, a division of Elfenworks Productions, LLC.
1Sources: Grateful thanks to Br. Camillus Chavez, FSC, www.brothercamillus.com, whose own forgiveness meditation was the inspiration for this meditation, and who trained the author in the technique.