Friday, June 8, 2012


I don't remember when I first learned The Lord's Prayer. My family did not attend church, was not in any way religious... but was very much in support of my learning about various religions and faiths. So I would attend services with my friends—outings which invariably exposed me to new language, new rituals, and new ideas.

It was always interesting to experience an entire mass of people speaking in unison or singing traditional songs. I would marvel at how they all knew these things by heart. Songs and prayers and chants and responses. They just knew what to do.

And The Lord's Prayer was one of those things. I think I learned it, in part, so that I could participate. Not feel so left out. So silent and alone and lost in the hum and buzz of united voices.

My favorite part of the prayer, the one that has stuck with me through what has continued to be a predominantly non-church-oriented spiritual journey, is this:

And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.

I prefer the "trespass" version to the "sin" version for a variety of reasons. It took me a long time to figure out what this part of the prayer even meant. (When I was younger, I had a pretty literal interpretation, which was - ultimately - confusing. I could only think of lawns.)

My understanding of the concept of trespass, or transgression - both with regard to oneself and others - has evolved quite a bit over time. The trespasses of elementary-aged school children, no matter how bullied or bullying they may be - are very different than those of adults. Particularly once you get married and start to have children.

My capacity to fail has increased as I've gotten older; or rather, those failures have the potential to be much greater and have much wider ramifications than those of my 8 year-old self.

And so I am keenly aware of my trespasses. And increasingly aware of what that capacity to fail means to me in relation to understanding my humanness and my somewhat bumpy journey toward enlightenment, or divinity, or whatever you want to call it. That journey which is so solidly anchored in this process and act of forgiveness. Forgiveness of self and others.

Recently, I have joked with friends about how parenting is really this grand opportunity to keep learning about and addressing one's flaws. It's the ultimate lesson in personal evolution and awareness of failure. You can't help but fail as a parent - and in that truth is an inherent and inescapable lesson... one linked to humility (the good kind), resilience, and compassion.

Being aware of my capacity to trespass - being open and awake to my failures, as difficult as it has been - has stretched the boundaries and pliancy of my capacity to forgive. To be patient. To be flexible. To be more trusting. To be more loving and ready to love.

And it's still a journey. I continue to fail. I continue to strive to do better. But forgiveness seems to be the key, and in that balance seems to be the most valuable lesson.

May you notice and forgive your trespasses against others. May you respond with love through all transgressions.

1 comment:

  1. Recently, I have joked with friends about how parenting is really this grand opportunity to keep learning about and addressing one's flaws.

    I've found myself grateful for this opportunity. As well as not a little astonished at how much work I have to do — oh, my failings are many indeed.