I knew I needed to forgive, so my friend loaned me the book Women Who Run With the Wolves. I turned to the chapter on forgiveness. Near the end of it, Clarissa Pinkola Estés outlines the stages of forgiveness. But before I could go there, I needed to read about rage.
All emotion, even rage, carries knowledge, insight, what some call enlightenment. Our rage can, for a time become our teacher–a thing not to be rid of so fast . . . The cycle of rage is like any other cycle; it rises, falls, dies and is released as new energy.
Allowing oneself to be taught by one’s rage. thereby transforming it, disperses it. (352)
So rather than trying to “behave” and not feel our rage or rather than using it to burn down every living thing in a hundred-mile radius, it is better to first ask rage to take a seat with us, have some tea, talk a while so we can find out what summoned this visitor. (353-4)
I’m still pretty angry. I don’t want to think about that punch in the gut anymore or feel it tie me in knots. But I can’t let it go. So I make a pot of tea and offer my visitor a seat.
Rage barely sits down before she shows me pictures of the room where it happened. She recites the words that were said and reminds me of the judgment that slammed a door in my face.
It felt like someone shoved their fist down my throat and blackened my insides, leaving no trace of goodness, no grounds for recourse.
I’ve felt this way before.
“Remember when,” she begins, and I start to cry.
We sit and drink our tea in silence.
I remember being accused and judged in elementary school. I remember the principal’s furrowed brow, angry tone, annihilating glare. He pronounced my shame and walked away. Never again did I find kindness in his eyes. It was a life sentence without parole.
“It wasn’t right,” rage says, seething. “It wasn’t fair and you didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Not now, not then.”
She takes a few sips of tea to calm herself down. “I’ve been watching you. You keep looking to see if the ban against you’s been lifted.”
I know what she’s talking about. It happened again yesterday. “I’ve noticed that sometimes I look at people I hardly know in the eyes as if I want something from them,” I say. “Now I know what I’ve been looking for. I want them to see me and smile. As if somehow, that will reverse my sentence and let me go free.”
I look sideways at my visitor, but her chair is empty.
In the morning, I practice the Welcoming Prayer. There she is. Rage is barely noticeable next to my heart. I feel her soft pulse. I welcome her and the divine action within her. I recall her revelation and feel energy gathering. I think about trying to get people to look at me, see me, and love me. I feel powerless. Trapped inside my chest, rage flows down my arms. The desire to attain affection and esteem is strong.
I take a deep breath and slowly breathe out, surrendering my desire to find a way to get what I need. I take another breath trusting that the One who is choosing to give me life at this moment will give me all I need.
I pray, “I let go of my desire for affection, security and control and open myself to God’s loving action within.”
The door of my heart is open for my guest to come and go as she likes. I welcome her to have tea with me again.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
–Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
* * *
My daughter, grandchildren and I attended the Walk the Talk rally on April 6. We heard speeches from indigenous and non-indigenous leaders of faith communities in Vancouver. The dance troupe Butterflies in Spirit performed, bringing tears to our eyes. We declared our solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters to support their rights as human rights.
My conversation with rage showed me how much God desires reconciliation. I am hoping that by attending rallies, learning more, and speaking truth, Canadians will have a meeting of eyes and healing of hearts.