One was a seminarian who was sharing his vocation story at the discernment retreat – he said that after his return to the faith, within a few months, he had the grace to forgive those in his life. And then in class one day, after explaining something related, a scholarly older priest professor told us, “you have to forgive…” With those thoughts on the back of my mind for weeks, and desiring to face this area a little more, I picked up the book and began to read.
The author, Angele Regnier, walks one through the process of forgiving using her own experiences. Her honesty is refreshing and makes for an intriguing and motivating read on a hard subject. But when I got to chapter 4, which discussed “preparing to forgive,” I decided to take a break.
The way Angele prepared to forgive seemed effective, but challenging. She made a list of everyone she needed to forgive. Though I think I probably have much more to be grateful for than to forgive, this still sounded tough. So I stewed on it – literally and figuratively.
As she always does, my mom made some wonderful food for me while I was home over spring break, including a batch of delicious stew. I don’t know if you have ever had stew, but the way I have had it a lot of times – the potatoes and carrots and meat and onions and tomatoes are so big that you can’t fit more than one or maybe two things into your mouth at a time, even though you would like to. So your options are either to eat just the one bite or to cut it up into smaller pieces.
I kind of did the same thing with the chapter on preparing to forgive. Instead of trying to make a big list, I just tried to think of one person I would like to forgive one day. And I thought about that person for a while. And it was a peace-giving experience. The next day I tried thinking of another person. And that too was good. This morning, I thought of some things I would like to forgive in myself. That too brought more peace.
So, however one wants to think about it, making things “bite-size” or taking it “one bite at a time,” I guess that can apply not only to eating one’s stew but also to forgiving and finding more and more peace.