I wanted to brighten the room by putting some flowers on a table behind me when I was being interviewed. I could have bought cut flowers, but my bushy Schlumbergera was in full bloom and gorgeous. Plus I’ve written about it a number of times on my blog.
Fred prepared a place for the large plant in the back seat of the car and strapped it in. I sat beside it to keep it steady, but as soon as we got to the church, I knew it was a bad idea. Strength seemed to have drained out of it, and all its branches drooped.
A week later, it still had not returned to itself, so I used some ribbon to tie the weaker branches to a heartier one. The last bloom fell when Advent began.
For years now, my Christmas cactus has bloomed in Advent and given me hope in the dark season of waiting. But last year, it had no words for me.
Tiny buds appeared mid-December, but when I touched them they dropped to the floor.
“I’m so sorry,” I said again.
I watered my friend, gave it fertilizer and felt deepening respect for my Schlumbergera. In January, new buds appeared and are now blooming.
“Look at you!” a directee said beholding the flowering beauty.
“I’ve been forgiven,” I replied and told her the story.
What I didn’t say was that my dear Christmas cactus hadn’t revived to wag a finger at me. Although it wanted me to know that it didn’t like being moved, it bloomed because I needed hope.
I needed to be reminded that we do things that hurt others, and it can take a long time to be forgiven.
Meanwhile, Love forgives me, and Love asks me to forgive myself.
I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes–it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, “Well, if I’d known better, I’d have done better,” that’s all. —Maya Angelou
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“Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. She was born and raised in Clovis, California, where her family settled as Sikh farmers in 1913. When a family friend was the first person killed in a hate crime after September 11, 2001, she began to document hate crimes against Sikh and Muslim Americans, which resulted in the award-winning film Divided We Fall. Since then, she has made films and led story-based campaigns on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality, and Internet freedom. . . During her work, whether inside supermax prisons, on the military base at Guantanamo, or at sites of mass shootings, she identified a surprising key element for social change: the ethic of love. Today she leads the Revolutionary Love Project to champion love as a force for justice and wellspring for social action.” valariekaur.com/about-valarie/