Hi! It has been a VERY busy day and I'm so happy to be taking a Mini-Women break. And it looks like we have THREE new mini-women on our journey with us -- welcome TRINITY, ANGELA, and BELLE. I've emailed Trinity and Angela with instructions but, BELLE I don't have your email address, so just go to the tiny place to the right that says "Tween Blog Rules" in blue and click there. Then you'll know what to do -- only where it gives my email address, use firstname.lastname@example.org instead. HOLLY can probably help you.
SO .... it's Friday and we're here in Galilee for our last day before we move on toward Jerusalem. It seems like we've been hanging out here for a long time, but we've figured out that Jesus wants us to really get what he's teaching us before we move forward. So it's okay.
This afternoon we're gathered in a tiny chapel way in the back yard of the house we're been staying in. The chairs are in a circle and candles are lit on stands and the place smells sweet and good.
Jesus talks in his usual soft but firm voice and he says, "I understand some of you are feeling shy about asking your friends, your Christian friends, to pray with you."
We feel kind of funky about that but we all nod becauae, what's the point in not being honest with Jesus when he knows us so well anyway?
"Then let's practice that," he says. "God be with you."
"And also with you," we reply together.
"Let us pray."
Then Jesus prays in a way that sounds different to each of us. What he says to YOU would be a good thing to comment on later. Mostly we feel like we've just been in a real conversation with God, and when we say Amen and open our eyes, some of us (you?) realize we've been holding hands with the person next to us.
"This feels good, doesn't it?" Jesus says.
We all agree that it does.
He smiles sadly. "But what happens when it doesn't? What about when someone, even someone you've prayed with before, does something that really hurts you and you can't work it out?"
"We keep praying," someone (you?) says.
Most of us know the answer, but it's so hard to say. Finally Jesus says it for us: "You have to forgive."
Immediately somebody (you?) blurts out, "Yeah, but how many times? Like when they just keep hurting us, do we forgive like seven times?"
"No," Jesus says. "Seventy times seven."
Somebody who's good at math (you?) says, "490 times?"
Jesus smiles again and begins to walk behind us as we sit in our chairs in the circle, touching each of us on the shoulder as he passes. One of us says, timidly (you?), "You're exaggerating again, arent you?"
"Not this time," Jesus says. "I really mean, forgive over and over and over again." He puts up a hand. "That doesn't mean be a doormat. It doesn't mean saying, 'Hey, keep doing that to me.'"
He waits for the question. Someone asks it: "Then what DOES it mean?"
Jesus comes back to the front and looks us all deep into our eyes. "I want every one of you to think of a person you're having a hard time forgiving. Even if it's that kid who teased you in first grade."
It doesn't take most of us long to think of somebody.
"Now," Jesus says, "I'm going to list for you what forgiveness is, and I want you to imagine yourself doing each of these things for that person. Ready?"
We nod, though some of us just KNOW this isn't going to work. Been there, done that.
When we're settled, Jesus begins:
* "Refuse to talk bad about the person, even if it makes you feel better to vent to other people about it."
* "Want the best for that person, even though you would rather imagine her getting exactly what you think she deserves."
* "Accept that you two may never make it okay between you. Let that be okay and let it go."
A small silence.
* "Say to the person, 'You don't owe me anything. I forgive you -- no strings attached.'"
* "Pray for the person. It's hard to keep hating someone you pray for."
During the last silence, Jesus quietly leaves the chapel. Some of us get out our Talking To God Journals and get right to praying. Then we bring the circle in tighter and we comment -- about which of those things it's the hardest to do AND about how it feels just to think about doing them AND about what one thing we might do -- really DO.
Over and over and over again.