when you need to say you are sorry? When you have messed up big in your life. Maybe you hurt some people, and you can and should appologize to them and make ammends if possible. But sometimes, our violation is against life itself – against its hope, its promise, its beauty. Sometimes we turn on ourselves – in which case just forgiving ourselves probably isn’t enough, or maybe not even possible at the moment, or we would not have done what we did.
It is at times like these that we need community most – a place where people will accept us, not judge us. Where people will help us hold ourselves accountable, rather than holding us accountable themselves. Where people will be more like physicians and less like law enforcement – inviting and nurturing us to honor the laws within our own selves, rather than mandating that we abide by externally imposed laws.
It is also at times like these that we need prayer. Prayer takes many forms and has many purposes. For me, two of the most beautiful forms of prayer are prayers of gratitude and prayers of repentance. In my prayers of gratitude I thank God for all that life is and offers to all of us. In my prayers of repentance I ask forgiveness for not living in accord with that gratitude that is within me. And in both instances I have the opportunity to receive the embrace of a loving God who says, “You are my child. I love you. I always have, and I always will.”