My father’s 106th birthday will be Sunday, November 20. He’s not still living; in fact, he’s been gone for a little over 40 years, but I always remember his birthday. What I most remember about his life is his rage, and most of my childhood memories are of his anger directed at one or another of his children. Forgiveness took me a long time.
My first spiritual director was a sweet elderly nun whom I began seeing more than 20 years after my father passed. When he became the subject of our sessions, she strongly encouraged me to forgive him immediately for those memories, and she was disappointed in me that I couldn’t. Instead, the forgiveness came about in its own time so that I can’t say exactly when it happened, but I’m certain that it was enabled by regular meditation and prayer. These practices put me in touch with Spirit, enabled me to realize that I was not alone, and helped me become a person who could forgive.
Finding peace now in the memories tells me that the forgiveness is real, so however much time it took was the right amount of time.