Becoming a Loving Presence in the World

May I live with integrity as a loving presence in the world.
–Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying, An Invitation to Wholeness, Psalm 10.

Prayers come and go for me, but these simple words by Nan Merrill have stayed with me. They echo my desire to live with integrity and be a loving presence.

In response, God has invited me to practice forgiveness. Whenever I think about forgiving, I recall the big hurts and resentments I’m trying to forgive. But in his book The Five Invitations, Frank Ostaseski encourages me to start small.

I remembered my teacher’s kind counsel years before, “When you go to the gym, don’t pick up the five-hundred-pound weight. Start with the twenty-pound weight.” I practiced forgiving the smallest slights: A driver cutting me off on the freeway. A colleague who used sharp words to disagree with a point I made. I developed the muscle of forgiveness by working through everyday grievances.

As I considered this, I recognized that it’s easy for me to forgive when it’s clear that the other person just made a mistake. It’s not so easy when I perceive that I’ve done something to deserve the slight against me or am somehow responsible for what went wrong. When that happens, I get stuck in anger, confusion and self-doubt.

Years ago, I remember telling my pastor about a car accident I’d had. My frustration was evident as I listed what the other driver did and said that was wrong.

“We all make mistakes. Can you forgive him?” the fatherly pastor asked.

I remember my surprise. I realized then that there was no question in the pastor’s mind that the other driver was at fault. Yet, despite all I’d said, there was a part of me that still believed I was at fault because that was what the other driver believed.

When people hurt me, others, or the earth and believe their actions are justified, I feel my anger rise. Yet who am I to say they’re wrong? Instead of getting stuck again in confusion and self-doubt, what if I trusted myself, took a bold step, and named their action as wrong and, with compassion for their blindness, forgave them?

That feels so freeing. It also feels scary to disagree with those who hold positions of power or act like they do.

To live with integrity is to be bold enough to name the wrongs I’m angry about, brave enough to disagree, and loving enough to forgive.

Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
–Martin Luther King Jr.

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

At 9 am on Thursday, Fred and I, along with 489 other cyclists rode past this counter on the Lochside urban trail in Victoria. That’s not counting joggers, walkers, and those in strollers and wheelchairs. We saw one dad on a skateboard pushing a stroller with a baby in it while his preschooler biked alongside. When we passed by this counter on our way into Victoria at 5 pm two days before the counter was nearly 2000. Victoria is a bike-friendly city, and credit is due, in no small part, to the CRD. “The Capital Regional District (CRD) was incorporated in 1966 to provide regional decision-making on issues that transcend municipal boundaries and to enable effective service delivery to residents regionally, sub-regionally and locally. Today, the CRD is the regional government for 13 municipalities and three electoral areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, serving more than 418,000 people. (CRD website)” CRD protects and manages 34 regional parks on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and 3 regional trails in greater Victoria: Lochside, E&N, and Galloping Goose. We rode on all three of these flat, beautiful trails and through a number of CRD parks.

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
“Love Heart” By Louise Docker from Sydney, Australia (My heart in your hands) CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Quote by Frank Ostaseski, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, 66.
“Setting The Free” by Brooke Hoyer. Used with permission.
Photo of the CRD cyclist counter by Esther Hizsa. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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2 Responses to Becoming a Loving Presence in the World

  1. Pingback: The Big Reveal | An Everyday Pilgrim

  2. Pingback: The Wisdom of Tara Brach and Pádraig Ó Tuama | An Everyday Pilgrim

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