Thursday, April 8, 2010

Prayer, Forgiveness, and Pain

I am angry with one of my closest friends. He has hurt me, cut me to the bone and left me bleeding on the ground. All perhaps without knowing but that doesn't undo the pain, and doesn't negate the callousness with which I've been treated. It is times like these when I want to invoke the Russian. My dear, my close друг. Literally, my other.

This scenario came to head in the middle of last week, in the middle of Holy Week. Afternoon of Holy Thursday, I find myself trying to explain my hurt to my friend. And then speaking to him in dark hissed tones as he throws on his mask of the great pastoral one, casting me in the role of the supplicate seeking mercy and succor.

I don't want mercy. I don't an apprentice's attempt at pastoral care, dammit. I want you to recognize that you have hurt me.

Holy Thursday evening, the first of about twenty hours I will spend in services over the next week. I have ceased to shake with rage somehow. I don't know how. Should I be in church right now? Can I give the service the attention it deserves? And seriously, how petty does this betrayal appear in the one that is recalled here?

Oh, Judas, my friend, my other, will you really betray me with a kiss?

I made a resolution at New Years to learn how to pray, and have certainly not done as well with it as I may have liked. But sitting in that pew, I found myself praying. Give me the strength to cope. Please, guide me through what I must do to come out of this. (This was not the first time I have prayed in this crisis, but my ex-Protestant mind has a little trouble understanding curling up prostrate on the floor of the chapel before the icon of the Theotokos and literally sobbing as prayer.) I left the service still quite upset.

Wake the next morning for the marathon of Holy Friday. Three services. Eight hours or more worth. Bow before the icon of the Theotokos in the narthex, and light a slender votive candle for myself. Give me strength. Give me guidance. Give me some peace of mind.

And as the services progress, gradually I find that. I must forgive him. It is not an option. But forgiveness doesn't have to be immediate and forgiveness doesn't overlook or trivial the hurt he caused me. My pain is real, and forgiving him is going to require acknowledging and honoring it. And I will.

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