2020. A year that most of us will never forget! It has been a year of shocks and surprises, for far too many a year of profound and unexpected loss, and a year of rebuilding. Here in the United States, we saw and experienced violence in our streets, and observed as our citizens become immune and psychologically hardened to tragic death toll statistics, which ebbed and flowed, but never relented. We forgot to think of each lost person and what they meant to their family and friends, and what they still planned to contribute to our world.
As a country, we discovered division and hostility and racism. We lost our appropriate boundaries, often judging and criticizing and calling others out for their different beliefs. We allowed politics to further divide us. As humanity on our planet, we embraced fear and found that the word ‘normal’ no longer had for each of us the same meaning. We acknowledged that a ‘return to normal’ might never include a return to our previous way of living – and being – that we had known for most of our lives. Most of us have entered 2021 with a sense of being damaged in our own personal ways through the events of 2020; we face this new year with a single overarching question: “Now what?”
Yet we must each find our own healing path.
We must and will find a way to love everyone, no matter how impossible or candy-coated that may sound. Because this is the only path forward. There is no healing through division but, by looking beyond our difference, we can and will find forgiveness and still love the world that is our home. And this is going to determine our future, both inside and out. May I suggest – we need to begin our journey of forgiveness by forgiving ourselves first – our fear and negativity, actions and reactions, our poorly chosen words, and our harsh judgment of a world and a situation over which we seemingly had no control.
2020 was the year when I finally was willing to publish some of my writing. It came in the form of The Wisdom of Tula, a card deck based on the extraordinary and soul-expanding art of painter Dianna Cates Dunn.
Here is what I wrote about the Forgiveness card:
Tula sits before a backdrop covered with the ancient Chinese symbol for ‘to forgive,’ which is composed of symbols believed to be in the shape of a woman who is falling to her knees with arms crossed over her breast. Through her mouth, she is offering the words of her heart.
The backdrop is genuinely the backdrop of Tula’s life: she lives her life on a foundational practice of forgiveness. She knows that forgiveness is the only right path to absolute happiness and is critical to her physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness. Tula knows that forgiveness is really about forgiving ourselves first, regardless of any harm we believe others have perpetrated against us. It is not about first judging others as wrong, and then ‘forgiving them,’ which is no forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness involves realizing that every person we meet is a teacher in our lives, offering us an essential lesson for personal growth, no matter how egregious their words or actions might seem.
Everyone has examples of people or situations they believe should not be forgiven. We sometimes have difficulty forgiving others because, in truth, we have trouble forgiving ourselves. We believe at a very deep or unconscious level that we must be ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ because we drew that person or situation into our life. The practice of forgiveness, which is a spiritual technology, is always about us; if we can forgive ourselves and others, we have obtained both the lesson and gift in the situation. At the soul level, each person is beautiful and perfect; we are all connected in oneness through that which created us. This does not mean we should not hold others accountable for their behavior. In doing so, we must forgive without judgment, or we are caught in a vicious cycle that steals our happiness.
If you drew this card, you are being offered a very significant opportunity to change your life and your world through the essential and unrelenting practice of non-judgmental forgiveness. We are each day given thousands of opportunities to forgive. From this, we can grow and prosper as loving, compassionate beings, filled with inner peace. Forgiveness is the pathway of light, beckoning you home. COPYRIGHT 2020, Satiama Publishing and Karen Stuth; Art copyright 2020, Dianna Cates Dunn
Here is where we can regain our sense of control – by controlling our choices and thoughts. I’d like to invite each of you to include a forgiveness attitude as a part of your daily routine and life. Through this practice we will truly heal ourselves and the world around us. We must forgive those things that, especially in 2020, deeply left their mark on us in unhappy ways, without first judging them as wrong. We must forgive our reaction to those events, people, and circumstances. We must forgive absolutely everything and everyone that we have allowed to steal our happiness. Our happiness and joy are ours, and a gift we can give ourselves in spite of whatever is happening around us. We never lost control of this. And the process can be quite simple. You need not journal about it, or make lists of people or grievances, or write letters you plan to burn, or engage in any process or procedure. Simply be willing to forgive anything you feel is blotting out your own personal light, and then choose joy in its place. We can choose happiness and joy – as author Marci Shimoff has so well described – for absolutely no reason.
I want to express extreme gratitude to those who have been keeping the faith out there, even though not much is more mentally and emotionally and physically exhausting than this year and at this point in time than to continually swim our way back to faith and trust and a gratitude-infused perspective. Happy 2021 — may it bring back the joy to all our lives. You each deserve that! Much love to each and every one of you, without limitation.
May we rise higher and find ourselves better through our shared journey.
About the Author: Karen Stuth is the co-founder and owner of Satiama, LLC, which includes Satiama Publishing and Satiama Writers Resource. She is the author of The Wisdom of Tula card deck, a co-author and creator of Quintangled: A Game of Strategy, Chance & Destiny, and a contributing author to Yoga for the Brain by Cristina Smith.