Editor’s Note. I wrote this post three years ago but since Easter Sunday is tomorrow I thought I should share it again. Forgiveness is the single most powerful action we can take to make our lives better because it always leads to redemption. I sincerely hope everyone who reads this will take it to heart. Happy Easter!
Here in Kansas, spring is the season we burn the tallgrass prairie so it can renew its root system and return to its natural state. Big Bluestem is the native prairie grass that covers most of the Flint Hills and can grow as tall as a man. Burning it off in the spring helps destroy the weeds that compete with the grass for the limited rainfall that comes later. A month from now the Flint Hills will look like God’s own golf course with emerald green hills as far as the eye can see.
A hundred years ago this all happened naturally, with lightning as the firestarter. The Plains Indians used the fires as a guide to follow the migratory herds of bison. The herds ran from the fires but they knew to return shortly thereafter to feast on the new grasslands. The Indians depended on the bison, the bison depended on the grass, the grass depended on the fires and life on the prairie kept to its cycle. There was a wonderfully simple balance at work in those days and it all started with renewal.
I think our existence today would be infinitely better if we managed our lives and relationships in a similarly simple pattern. To me, the spring burning season is a great metaphor for the act of forgiveness. By setting fire to the old, weedy parts of our existence we give our relationships a better chance to grow strong again. Forgiveness is the action we take to let go of hard feelings, envy, doubt and enmity toward others. All those negative thoughts are just excess baggage that weighs us down and keeps us from the real joy that is found in friendship and loving relationships.
Recently, I drove through the Flint Hills and I was treated to an incredible panorama of color and activity. As I drove north, there were fires sweeping down the hillsides to the east and to the west there was a majestic burnt orange sunset that took forever to reach twilight. It was then I realized the power of forgiveness and the symmetry of nature that is present in all of our lives every day. When the sun sets, that is the perfect time to forgive that day’s worth of grief. Don’t let it build up even one night. The sooner we let go of our negative perceptions, and frankly most of our problems are self-imposed, then we can grow as emotionally healthy individuals. Wasting time with selfishness and arrogance just makes it inevitable that some day we will have to take the more drastic step of burning down our prejudices and setting fire to our negativity in order to grow again.
When I see those gorgeous green hills, just weeks after the burning season, I am reminded how well renewal works in nature, and moreover how much we need it too. Forgiveness is the greatest tool we possess for making our lives the best they can be and by humbling ourselves every day at sunset I believe we will all see a bright and beautiful future. So, each time you look to the west, just let your heartache go with the last rays of sunlight. It works for me and that’s one secret I will gladly share with anyone.
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