I quite enjoy thinking of intriguing titles for my blog posts, and this one is a teaser. My British friends will immediately think I've finally found a diet I could stick to, and shed fourteen pounds (6kg) and my American ones will, well, take it literally and hit a home run.
This is the story:
Yesterday I drove for an hour over the border into the Principality of Wales to go on a retreat. Twelve woman together giving our souls a makeover. More specifically, working our way through the topic of forgiveness.
One of the practical activities we undertook was to give the name of our unforgiveness, be there such a beast, to a stone, and hold it in our hand all day, until we were ready let it go.
There were a fair selection of stones to choose from. Mine was small, round and smooth, retrieved from a river where, I fancy, it had lain incognito for a few hundreds of thousands of years, awaiting its name and it's day in the limelight.
To be honest, I hadn't given much thought to the content of the day when I booked the retreat, I just went with a vague feeling that it would be nice to get away. I should have paid attention. Try as I might, I couldn't find any unforgiveness in my heart to name. " What?" I thought, running over a few likely areas, "Not even a tiny bit of lingering resentment?"
No. Nothing. I did have a go at Ray recently for putting the garden hose away when I thought I'd made it clear I wanted it left out, but even the most cursory of glances over the garden wall reveals that HE was more entitled to be unforgiving than I was, and besides 'husband not reading my mind and anticipating my wishes in this matter' hardly seems worth naming a stone after. Besides, as a name, it lacks brevity.
The stone was grey and gritty. Not very large as stones go. It did in fact, lack personality. Catherine's stone, for example, was actually a piece of cuttlefish, and it floated. Eleanor's stone had a smaller pebble embedded within it. Mine neither glittered, floated, or displayed any evidence of geological excitement, it just sat in the palm of my hand, waiting ... .
The whole exercise reminded my of my daughter's PHSE class. It became the thing to give the girls ( it was an all-girls school) a bag of flour to take everywhere for a week in order to teach them responsibility and to put them off having babies. Intrigued, I watched my sixteen year old pay my ten year old to look after her bag of flour. Which then sat on top of the television for a week. I don't think it put anybody off having babies, but it did earn my youngest a bit of extra pocket money.
After lunch, for which I had provided my famous smoked-salmon-quiche-without-the-pastry-case (which is universally admired, and deserves a proper name), I set off for a walking meditation during which I distracted myself by racking my brains to think of someone who had wronged me and who therefore condemned themselves to an eternity of enmity. Usually it was plain, as in the case of the garden hose, that I held at least equal responsibility for whatever rancour remained, which was about none in every case.
There were the people who were responsible for me losing my job. Wow! That WAS a biggie at the time, but now I could kiss their collective feet, as their idiotic behaviour earned me six years remission from hard labour and a settlement.
I spent a few minutes marvelling at how free from any kind of pain that was now, and how, after a bit of a spat, I'd managed to square things with my husband over the garden hose. There fell upon me a sense of smug satisfaction that probably wasn't good for my soul at all.
Then I realised with a jolt that my stone no longer rested in the palm of my right hand. Oh Lord, I had to report back on my spiritual progress, and I was decidedly lacking in any, AND admit to losing my stone!
I backtracked through the garden, felt around the gooseberry bush, looked under the garden seat, investigated the path through the hay meadow, and cheated. I picked up another stone. Nobody would know, Even though it was a different shape and texture, I couldn't imagine that anyone else would have studied my inert friend long enough to take in particulars.
Anyway, if they found out. they'd have to forgive me, wouldn't they? Stands to reason.
Actually, Clarisse, was sitting where I left her on the arm of my chair.