Saturday, March 17, 2012

Freedom from Injustice

Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for the tree.
Rabindranath Tagore

I’ve been busy shining light in my own soul for the past few weeks, seeing for the first time in two years some hard truths about myself. I know without a doubt now there’s a Higher Power who’s personally interested in my spiritual growth, because the sequence of events these last weeks has inexorably brought me to a gigantic, life-shifting Aha! moment of emancipation, forgiveness, and peace.

My inner darkness began two years ago this month when the FBI burst into my mother’s care facility one morning, arrested the owners for trafficking in slavery, booted out the residents, and destroyed my demented mom’s life. She lost her fragile grip on reality and was dead four months later. I got a major resentment and wrote about it here in April of 2010.

Three weeks ago, the newspaper reported the care home’s owners were sentenced to 18 months in prison and $600,000 restitution to nine workers brought in illegally from a foreign country and treated like slaves. As I read the newspaper report, I suddenly remembered searching for a new home for my mother in the weeks before the FBI raid because the quality of care had deteriorated.

My intuition had told me to move my mother but I didn’t act fast enough. The facility owners and the FBI were beyond my control, but I suddenly saw my part in the fiasco. Recognizing my role in Mom’s meltdown had an immediate effect, releasing me from two years of resentment over the injustice of it all.

That epiphany created a chink in my armor. On its heels came a series of events that brought me face to face with other people whose actions were unjust in the past two years. A little army of people who had hurt me came marching through my life, in circumstances that required me to act helpfully and humanely toward them – something I can’t do when I’m fiercely holding on to resentment about the injuries I suffered.

Because of the chink in my armor, I saw flaws in my own character that were surprisingly similar to those in other people I had judged harshly. I went to my AA sponsor, a woman I’ve met with almost every week for the past year because I wanted her help in learning to live in an unjust world. I told her what I saw in myself. She nodded her head and smiled. She reminded me that we’re all God's children doing the best we can with what we’ve got inside us.

I left her house that night a free woman. My resentments evaporated. I could do the right things now, for the right reasons, with a clean soul.

When I’m willing see my full truth and come clean inside, accepting my part in whatever has injured me, I’m no longer the helpless victim of someone’s wrongdoing. In my experience, all of us lit matches that sent something up in flames. I don’t have to blame anyone anymore. I’m freed from the bondage of resentment through the gift of forgiveness.

I’ve been digesting this as I worked preparing my garden for spring. I’ve pulled out dead stalks, turned the soil, and planted seeds, thinking all the while how wonderful it is to be an imperfect human being. Last night the rain came at last. This morning the ground is soaked, black and beautiful. Fragile first leaves are emerging. Life is good.