Good morning! Wow, look at more snow!
Today’s scripture: GENESIS 45:1-15
1Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.
4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there – since there are five more years of famine to come – so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ 12And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.
“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.”
― Sara Paddison
Today’s scripture is a beautiful story of restoration and forgiveness I think. What amazes me is the pure delight that Joseph has when he is restored with his family. He has missed his father for sure, but to embrace his brothers who tried to get rid of him, seems overly generous to me. At the same time, he is not expecting anything from them but some kind of reciprocation back into the family.
All of this is extremely hard. I can think of a just a few people that I have lost relationship with because of hurtful moments in time that I am not so quick to restore. While I have moved on and think I am willing to repair the relationship, I am not sure I can forgive so easily or I do taint that forgiveness with my expectation that they will apologize or change to what I need them to be. When I was littler it was easier to “forgive” my brothers about whatever they had done to me. And of course, it was always that they had done something to me and not the other way around I have to point out here. I was a pure angel throughout my childhood I am sure. But we could easily exchange our apologies and move on. But as adults, it takes some work to repair relationships or decide that the relationship is not healthy for me. Also a hard choice in the matter.
Yesterday I was at a hospital chaplains meeting (I am a volunteer chaplain usually on Mondays for the hospital). Janet, the staffed hospital chaplain, was giving us some basics about Buddhist beliefs so that if we encounter a Buddhist in the hospital we can be better aware of what is appropriate or inappropriate care. We can comfort and advocate appropriately. What I loved was her demonstration of grasping equals suffering and then letting that go. She was talking about grasping onto the past or grasping onto someone causes suffering. This causes dwelling on the past or unhealthy situations and that causes suffering. But to relieve that pain we have to let go and give it up. We have to release that.
Isn’t that what forgiveness kind of sounds like? Especially in this bible story? The suffering resides when Joseph lets go of the past. Of course, he can’t forgive but he releases the pain. And perhaps that’s what we can do today. Whatever we are holding onto perhaps we can try to let it go. For our Buddhist brothers and sisters, it is about releasing back to light. We could release to light or to God to just give it up already back into the earth or something. Don’t cause more suffering by holding on…time to move on and give it up. So perhaps this is our Lenten practice for today….
For your prayer today, spend a moment in silence to allow yourself just to be. Amen.