what we forget

"Life, without pushing the past into the past, would be altogether impossible."

I was recently asked the question (by whom I don't remember), if I was the sort that lives in the past, present, or future. Well I'm not very good at looking ahead, and I don't particularly want to be too much. The present is in a sense transitory of course, so staying there is quite hard. But I tend to stay there--or at least in the not so distant past. But there have definitely been times when I have been stuck by the past. Where do you live?

"Forgetting by repression does not liberate us, but seems to cut us off from what makes us suffer. We are not entirely successful, however, because the memory is buried within us, and influences every moment of our growth. And sometimes it breaks through its prison and strikes at us directly and painfully."

I've been remembering my brother-in-law recently. Somewhat strange maybe, considering all else that I could be forgetting or remembering. I really want to visit him over christmas break.

"Then there is a forgetting that liberates us not from the memory of the past guilt but from the pain it brings. The grand old name for this kind of forgetting is repentance. Today, repentance is associated with a half-painful, half-voluptuous emotional concentration on one's guilt, and not with a liberating forgetfulness. But originally it meant a "turning around," leaving behind the wrong way and turning towards the right. It means pushing the consciousness and pain of guilt into the past, not by repressing it, but by acknowledging it, and receiving the word of acceptance in spite of it. If we are able to repent, we are able to forget, not because the forgotten act was unimportant, and not because we repress what we cannot endure, but because we have acknowledged our guilt and can now live with it. For it is eternally forgotten."

I used to not understand grace for the believer. I only had the narrow conception of grace as it is that provides salvation. I could thank my evangelical fundamentalist upbringing for that, or that could just be a cop out. I'm learning the other side of grace though. Oh how I need it to be my breath. I could say more, but I couldn't say it much better than this:

"Forgetting in spite of remembering is forgiveness. We can live only because our guilt is forgiven and thus eternally forgotten. And we can love only because we forgive and are forgiven."

...if you haven't, and you probably haven't, I highly recommend checking out Paul Tillich--though he isn't the easiest of reads at all. It's philosophy and quite challenging beyond that. For the more accessible, and the quotes here, start with The Eternal Now.

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